Media Effects on Expectancies: Exposure to Realistic Female Images as a Protective Factor

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Although frequent exposure to very thin female models is likely the norm for American women, exposure to attractive, average-weight models is likely unusual and may therefore be influential. The authors hypothesized that women at risk for eating disorders who are exposed to attractive, average-weight models would endorse fewer expectancies for reinforcement from thinness than would other women. The hypothesis was confirmed: High-risk women exposed to average-weight model images were less likely to endorse thinness/restricting expectancies than those who were exposed to thin models or to control images. Media exposure to realistic female images appears to lessen the relationship between at-risk status and subsequent endorsement of thinness/restricting expectancies and may therefore disrupt the risk process.

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