Date of Submission

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Stacey Cahn, Ph.D. / ASW

Abstract

In the present study, the impact of viewing various types of female images online was examined to approximate the potential impact of online photo viewing on social-networking sites. Two-hundred forty-one young women between the ages of 18 and 30 years were recruited on social-networking sites to participate. In this randomized-controlled, Internet-based study, participants were randomly assigned to one of the following groups of roughly 50 participants each: (a) very attractive-thin, (b) very attractive-not thin, (c) average-attractive-thin, (d) average attractive-not thin, and (c) control (landscapes). All participants viewed the corresponding images online via a “mock” social networking page created by the researchers. Trait drive for thinness was examined as a predictor, while mood and body image state satisfaction were assessed at both baseline and post exposure. Results provided partial support for the hypotheses, suggesting that participants exposed to very attractive-thin images had changes in the negative direction in mood and body image state satisfaction, while participants in the nonthin conditions had changes in the positive direction on these same variables. Taken together, this study expanded upon existing literature by suggesting that online photo viewing may be yet another potent sociocultural influence impacting young women’s mood and perceptions of their bodies, particularly through the processes of physical-appearance comparison. Future research should focus on developing, and then disseminating, feasible and effective prevention programs to "inoculate" vulnerable populations from the potentially detrimental effects of exposure to unrealistic body images on social media.

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