The processing of thin ideals in fashion magazines: a source of social comparison or fantasy?
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The present study aimed to investigate the role of processing in women’s responses to thin idealized images of beauty. A sample of 144 women viewed magazine advertisements containing either thin ideal or product images. Instructional set was manipulated with three levels: control, social comparison, and fantasy instructions. It was found that exposure to thin ideal images led to increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction, while instructional set had its effect on positive mood and body dissatisfaction. For thin ideal images, social comparison instructions led to greater negative mood and body dissatisfaction, while fantasy instructions led to improved positive mood. Importantly, regression analyses indicated that both comparison processing (negatively) and fantasy processing (positively) were associated with women’s response to thin ideal images. It was concluded that the nature of the processing women engage in is crucial to their response to thin ideal images.