A confound-free test of the effects of thin-ideal media images on body satisfaction

Cavel Whyte, Leonard S. Newman, David Voss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In experimental investigations of how exposure to thin-ideal body types affects body dissatisfaction (a predictor of disordered eating), it is unclear what the nature of the control condition should be. The current investigation utilizes an unconfounded design and models a method for developing control images of women who differ from thin models in terms of body type and body type only (while using a cover story to reduce suspicion and providing participants with details other than body shape to focus on). The expected effect of image type on body satisfaction was found (after controlling for participants' self-perceived overall attractiveness), although consistent with Ferguson's (2013) meta-analysis, the effect was small. A scale type manipulation, however, designed to test an account of the findings in terms of how participants define scale endpoints, did not significantly affect the results, perhaps because participants spontaneously engaged in social comparison when first exposed to the models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-839
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Body image
  • Media images
  • Social comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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