Cognitive Theory: Magazines and Body Image

Tori Hernandez and Anthony Mallory

Social Cognitive Theory
• The more people are exposed to ideas, the more likely they are to accept these ideas as reality (Mastro 2002) • People “produce and are products” of their environment (Mastro, 2002, p.134)

Background

Purpose
• To reveal the correlation between exposure to fashion magazines and women’s perceptions of their own body image

• Women in Magazines

Literature Review

• Since 1959 there has been an increase in the portrayal of thin and tall women in the media (Hendriks 2002) • 94% of fashion magazines show thin males or celebrities on their cover (Slater et al., 2012) • Body size shown in magazines is thinner than 98% of women • Most portrayed body size in magazines is only attainable to 5% of the population (Urquhart & Mihalynuk, 2011) • 77% of women in magazines appear to be under thirty • Only 27% of U.S women are under thirty (England, Kuhn & Gardner, 1981)

Literature Review (continued)
• Diet • Eating disorders have risen in adolescent and college aged women (Urquhart & Mihalynuk, 2011) • “Strong associations between reading magazines about weight loss and disordered eating (Urquhart & Mihalynuk, 2011, p. 120) • Proven that women will eat less after seeing thin models (Krahé & Krause, 2010)

Literature Review (continued)
• Self-Esteem

• Women with low self-esteem have higher frequency of “internalizing societal standards of attractiveness (Vartanian, 2009, p. 95)
• Directly predicts a woman’s body dissatisfaction (Vartanian, 2009).

Literature Review (continued)
• Body Image

• “A combination of a person’s perceptions, feelings and thoughts about his/her body and their general physical appearance” (Bakhshi, 2011, p. 374)
• Cosmetic surgery • Links between exposure to media images and poor body image

Literature Review (continued)
• Exposure to Magazines
• Duration of exposure can permanently shape perceptions of reality • Effect advertisements have on viewers can “interact with enduring cognitive structures such as beliefs and values” (Lafky et al., p. 386) • Magazines encourage women to feel dissatisfied with their bodies and to consider cosmetic surgery (Slevec & Tiggeman, 2010)

Research Questions
• R1: Is daily exposure to advertisements correlated with women’s efforts to diet? • IV: Efforts to Diet

• Constitutive Definition: How often women count calories, cut sugary foods, avoid fatty foods
• Operational Definition: Scale of how women view food. Questions taken from Garner’s Eating Attitudes Test • DV: Exposure to Advertisements • Constitutive Definition: How often women view magazines • Operational Definition: Rate how often women view magazine advertisements on Likert scale of frequency

Research Question
• R2: Does age correlate with perceptions of self-esteem?

• IV: Age
• Constitutive Definition: How old participants are

• Operational Definition: Circle age
• DV: Perceptions of self-esteem • Constitutive Definition: How independent women perceive themselves and how easily influenced they are by external factors • Operational Definition: Rate statements based off of Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

• H1: The higher the frequency of viewing magazine advertisements, the more negative their perceptions of their body image
• IV: Frequency of viewing magazine advertisements • Constitutive: How often one views magazine per week/day. • Operational: Participants asked to circle representative of how much they view magazines per week/day on Likert scale (Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Every Day) • DV: Perceptions of their body image

Hypothesis

• Constitutive: How a woman views her body
• Operational: Rate statements based off of Rosenberg SelfEsteem Scale (based off of body perception)

• H2: There is a correlation between women’s perception of their body image and their self-esteem • IV: Self-esteem • Constitutive: How independent women perceive themselves and how easily influenced they are by external factors • Operational: Statements based off of Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale • DV: Perception of body image • Constitutive: How a woman views her body • Operational: Rate statements based off of Rosenberg SelfEsteem Scale (based on perceptions of body)

Hypothesis

Method
• 50 Female Queens Students • Face-to-Face Survey

• Convenience Sample
• Non-probability

Findings
• Demographic • Pilot Study
17 or younger 0

17-18 19-20 21-22 23 or older Total

3 28 17 2 50

Correlations each • Question 1: Rate how often you view
magazine
Cosmo Vogue People US Never Rarely 12 12 14 21 10 8 8 21 19 10 14 TIME 26 16 5 Other 0 0 4

Sometimes 13

Often
Every Day

12
1

4
1

12
1

6
1

2
1

4
1

Correlations
Q2: I am happy with my body
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral 1 4 14 Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

• Q3: I would like to lose weight
7
3 8 24 8

Agree
Strongly Agree

25 6

Graphs

89% correlation

• Results show contradiction • Most women are happy with their body, yet want to lose weight

• Q4: I feel pressure to be thin
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree 8 11 10 17

Correlations
Q11: I avoid foods with sugars in them
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral 13 18 10 8 1

4 Agree Strongly Agree

Graphs

35% correlation

• Results show participants feel some pressure to be thin and still decide not to diet or avoid sugary foods.

Implications of Results
• Most girls statements did not correlate with each other. • Most women are not avid viewers of magazines

Answers
• R1: Is daily exposure to advertisements correlated with women’s efforts to diet? • No. • Although women viewed magazines, there was no evidence to suggest this exposure to magazines made them want to diet.

Answers
• R2: Does age correlate with perceptions of self-esteem?

• No.
• There was no correlation that suggested a change of self-esteem just because of age. • Most participants were ages 19-21. Majority reported high self-esteem.

Answers
• H1: The higher the frequency of viewing magazine advertisements, the more negative their perceptions of their body image • Not supported.

• Inverse suggested - The less women view magazines, the higher their perceptions of body image • Social Cognitive Theory

Answers
• H2: There is a positive correlation between women’s perception of their body image and their self-esteem • Supported. • Women who had higher perceptions of their body image had higher self-esteem.

Conclusions
• Majority of participants at Queens do not view magazines very often. • Participants are not influenced to have poor body image due to limited exposure to magazines.

• Social Cognitive Theory

Limitations
• # of Participants • Skewed answers

Recommendations
• Heavy viewers of magazines • Focus group

• Method of distribution
• Different questions

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