Effect of thin media images on the food consumption and affect of binge eaters : examining the role of social comparison / by Sabreena K. Bola.
Bola, Sabreena K.
SubjectBulimia - Effect of body image on
Body image in women - In mass media
Compulsive eating - Effect of body image on
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Binge eating has become a prevalent issue for young women. A great deal of attention has focused on the etiological mechanisms underlying binge behaviour. Affect regulation models have received empirical support suggesting negative affect is an antecedent to binge eating. The sociocultural pressure to be thin is also a known risk factor for the development of Binge Eating Disorder. Previous research has shown that women eat less when exposed to thin media images eompared to neutral images. A large portion of the literature also indicates that thin images cause women to engage in social comparison resulting in negative affect and body dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, some research has shown that for dieters, thin images appear to have self-enhancement effects. The current study explored the role of social comparison in the effect of thin media images on the affect and food consumption of binge eaters and nonbinge eaters. Seventy-nine undergraduate students participated in the current experiment, during which they were exposed to thin media images and asked to engage in social comparison with the models or were asked to focus on the aesthetic qualities of the image. Results indicated that binge eaters ate more overall compared to nonbinge eaters. Specifically, binge eaters who were asked to selfcompare to the thin media images ate more compared to binge eaters who are asked to focus on the aesthetic qualities of the image. It was found that binge eaters displayed more negative affect at two separate time points in the study compared to nonbinge eaters. Further, it was found that binge eaters reported more difficulty in avoiding the thin model (e.g., aesthetic quality task) compared to nonbinge eaters. The implications of the study’s findings for the etiological models of binge eating, impact of the media, and role of social comparison are discussed.