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Arendt, Florian; Peter, Christina; Beck, Julia (2016): Idealized female beauty, social comparisons, and awareness intervention material. Evidence for preventive effects in young women. In: Journal of Media Psychology, Vol. 29, No. 4: pp. 188-197
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Abstract

Previous research indicates that exposure to the idealized thin media standard of female beauty can contribute to body dissatisfaction, negative self-perception, depressed mood, and disordered eating. Importantly, studies have revealed that social comparison processes underlie this negative media effect: Women routinely compare themselves with the encountered mass-mediated thin ideals, which, in turn, elicits negative consequences. While there are a multitude of studies on this topic, little is known about how this negative effect can be counteracted. We tested whether watching an awareness intervention video highlighting the artificial nature of mass-mediated idealized female beauty reduces social comparison processes in a subsequent situation. As a replication of previous research, we found that exposure to the awareness intervention material reduced social comparison processes. Supplementary analysis revealed that this effect was mediated through a change in the ideal self: Watching the awareness material elicited a more realistic perception of the specific body that individuals ideally wanted to possess. This more realistic ideal-self standard, in turn, reduced social comparison processes.