When Seeing Is Not Believing: An Examination of the Mechanisms Accounting for the Protective Effect of Media Literacy on Body Image
- 510 Downloads
The present study aimed to explore the moderating role of three dimensions of media literacy on the relationship between media exposure and body dissatisfaction, mediated by thin-ideal internalization and appearance comparison among early female adolescents. A sample of 284 Australian female adolescents in single-sex schools (Mage = 13.15 years, range 11–16) reported on their media exposure, thin-ideal internalization, appearance comparison, body dissatisfaction, and three dimensions of media literacy: realism scepticism (scepticism regarding the extent to which media images portray reality, similarity scepticism (scepticism regarding the extent to which images portray a reality that is compatible with one’s personal experience), and critical thinking (with regard to the intention of the message, its meaning, and influence). Moderated mediation analyses were conducted. Findings revealed different patterns of relationships for the different dimensions of media literacy, with similarity scepticism moderating the mediated relationship between media exposure and body dissatisfaction via both thin-ideal internalization and appearance comparison. In contrast, reality scepticism and critical thinking revealed negative associations with body dissatisfaction but were not found to serve as moderators. Findings suggest that the mechanisms of action may vary for different dimensions of media literacy, and they highlight the importance of targeting media literacy in intervention and prevention efforts.
KeywordsMedia literacy, body dissatisfaction, protective Thin-ideal internalization Appearance comparison Prevention Body image
This work was conducted as an Honorary Researcher at La Trobe University.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
This study was funded by Australian Rotary Health. A PhD scholarship was awarded to the second author.
The authors report no conflict of interest.
The study was approved by the ethnics committee of the University. All participants provided informed consent.
- Berel, S., & Irving, L. M. (1998). Media and disturbed eating: An analysis of media influence and implications for prevention. Journal of Primary Prevention, 18(4), 415–430. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.neu.edu/content/pdf/10.1023%2FA%3A1022601625192.pdf.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Garner, D. M., Olmstead, M. P., & Polivy, J. (1983). Development and validation of a multidimensional eating disorder inventory for anorexia nervosa and bulimia. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2(2), 15–34. https://doi.org/10.1002/1098-108X(198321)2:2<15::AID-EAT2260020203>3.0.CO;2-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Harris, R. J., & Sanborn, F. W. (2013). A cognitive psychology of mass communication. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hausenblas, H. A., Campbell, A., Menzel, J. E., Doughty, J., Levine, M., & Thompson, J. K. (2013). Media effects of experimental presentation of the ideal physique on eating disorder symptoms: A meta-analysis of laboratory studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(1), 168–181. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2012.10.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Hobbs, R. (1998). The seven great debates in the media literacy movement. Journal of Communication, 48(1), 16–32. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1998.tb02734.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Levine, M. P., & Murnen, S. K. (2009). “Everybody knows that mass media are/are not [pick one] a cause of eating disorders”: A critical review of evidence for a causal link between media, negative body image, and disordered eating in females. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28(1), 9–42. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2009.28.1.9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- López-Guimerà, G., Levine, M. P., Sánchez-Carracedo, D., & Fauquet, J. (2010). Influence of mass media on body image and eating disordered attitudes and behaviors in females: A review of effects and processes. Media Psychology, 13(4), 387–416. https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2010.525737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Myers, P. N., & Biocca, F. A. (1992). The elastic body image: The effect of television advertising and programming on body image distortions in young women. Journal of Communication, 42(3), 108–133. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1992.tb00802.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Neumark-Sztainer, D., Paxton, S. J., Hannan, P. J., Haines, J., & Story, M. (2006). Does body satisfaction matter? Five-year longitudinal associations between body satisfaction and health behaviors in adolescent females and males. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39(2), 244–251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.12.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Paxton, S. J., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Hannan, P. J., & Eisenberg, M. E. (2006). Body dissatisfaction prospectively predicts depressive mood and low self-esteem in adolescent girls and boys. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35(4), 539–549. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15374424jccp3504_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rideout, V. J., Foehr, U. G., & Roberts, D. F. (2010). Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-to 18-year-olds. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED527859.pdf.
- Rodgers, R. F., McLean, S. A., Marques, M., Dunstan, C. J., & Paxton, S. J. (2015). Trajectories of body dissatisfaction and dietary restriction in early adolescent girls: A latent class growth analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45, 1664–1677. https://doi.org/10.1007/s1096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rubin, A. M. (1994). Media uses and effects: A uses-and-gratifications perspective. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), LEA's communication series. Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 417–436). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc..Google Scholar
- Schoemaker, C., van Strien, T., & van der Staak, C. (1994). Validation of the eating disorders inventory in a nonclinical population using transformed and untransformed responses. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 15(4), 387–393. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.2260150409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Scull, T. M., Kupersmidt, J. B., Parker, A. E., Elmore, K. C., & Benson, J. W. (2010). Adolescents’ media-related cognitions and substance use in the context of parental and peer influences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(9), 981–998. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9455-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Silverblatt, A., Miller, D. C., Smith, J., & Brown, N. (2014). Media literacy: Keys to interpreting media messages: Keys to interpreting media messages. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
- Thompson, J. K., Heinberg, L., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (1991). The physical appearance comparison scale. The Behavior Therapist, 14, 174.Google Scholar