Social comparison test using women's subjective and physiological reactivity to thin and average size models
MetadataShow full item record
The current study examined the subjective and physiological reactivity to body image stimuli among females engaging in a social comparison task. Study I was conducted to select images of thin and average size models and neutral objects for Study II. For Study II, fifty-six female undergraduate students had their skin conductance and startle reflex responses recorded while comparing themselves to images featuring thin models, average size models, and neutral objects. Following the visual presentation, participants rated every image using the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) rating scale. Analysis from the SAM ratings scale revealed a significant picture type effect for arousal, dominance, and body satisfaction, indicating that participants reported greater arousal, more body dissatisfaction, and less control after viewing images of thin models than after viewing images of normal models and neutral objects. With regards to the psychophysiological data, results indicated that startle reflex responses were inhibited during the presentation of thin models in comparison to average size models and neutral objects. Moreover, startle reflex responses were inhibited for average size models in comparison to neutral objects. The finding that startle reactivity to model images was inhibited with respect to neutral images suggests pictures of models were processed affectively as pleasant, positive stimuli. The finding that startle reactivity to thin models was inhibited with respect to average size models suggests that thin model images elicited differentially greater positive affect than average size models. For skin conductance, analysis revealed no significant picture type effect. Taken together, the results of this study highlight the influence of social comparison processes on affectivity reactivity to body image. Future research directions are discussed.
Tamez, Jeannine Paola (2008). Social comparison test using women's subjective and physiological reactivity to thin and average size models. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from