Date of Award

Spring 1996

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Rebecca Warner


The relation between media exposure and body satisfaction was investigated using correlational and experimental approaches. Several variables were examined as potential moderators of this relation (perceived similarity to magazine models, self-relevance of weight, perceived control over weight, tendency to compare to models, and body mass). These variables were derived primarily from past research on Festinger's (1954) social comparison theory. In Study 1, male and female subjects reported the amount of time they spent reading magazines pre-coded as having a body image or non-body image emphasis. Body image magazine exposure was unrelated to body satisfaction and self-esteem when correlations were computed separately by sex of subject. The moderator variables did not play a major role in the exposure-satisfaction relation, but many were directly associated with body satisfaction, particularly for women. In Study 2, female subjects viewed advertisements containing thin, heavier, or no fashion models. Graphics software was used to manipulate the models' weight while other factors, such as facial appearance and clothing, were held constant. Body satisfaction and self-esteem changed minimally in response to all three types of advertisements and these changes did not differ significantly across experimental conditions. The thin and heavier model advertisements received similar liking scores suggesting that college-age women may be amenable to seeing models of varying sizes in advertisements. In general, advertisement liking scores and purchase intentions were higher among those concerned with their appearance.