Social comparison to thin and plus size media images : impact on candy consumption, affect, and body image in binge eaters
Chohan, Sabreena Bola
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
Effects of the media
MetadataShow full item record
Binge eating has long been a prevalent issue for young women. Though the development of binge eating is multifactorial, much attention has focused on the etiological mechanisms underlying binge behaviour. Affect regulation models are empirically supported; models illustrate the importance of affective dysregulation and negative experiences as antecedents of binge eating. The sociocultural pressure to achieve thinness is also a known risk factor for the development of binge eating. Previous research has shown that women eat less when exposed to thin media images. Several studies also indicate that social comparisons to thin media images result in negative affect and body dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, some research has shown that for dieters, thin images appear to have self-enhancement effects. Research to date has focused on the internalization of the thin ideal and the effects of exposure to thin models in studies examining media influence on pathological eating. The current study explored the effect of social comparison to thin and plus size media images on candy consumption, negative affect and body satisfaction among binge eaters and nonbinge eaters. One hundred and one undergraduate females participated in the current experiment, during which they were exposed to thin and plus size media images and asked to engage in an objective social comparison task followed by a taste test. Results indicated that binge eaters ate more compared to nonbinge eaters, specifically postexposure to thin media images. Increases in negative affect were found to occur as a function of one’s binge status and image type. Further, comparisons to thin media images led to decreases in body satisfaction whereas plus size images had the opposite effect. Results are discussed in relation to the etiological models of binge eating, differentiating factors associated with binge eating, and upward and downward social comparisons.