Influence of the Media

Emma Halliwell and Phillippa C. Diedrichs

in Oxford Handbook of the Psychology of Appearance

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199580521
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:
Influence of the Media

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This article presents an overview of the empirical evidence and the psychosocial theories that address the influence of the media on body image and appearance concerns. It considers how unrealistic ideals are over-represented, whilst people with a visible difference are rarely portrayed, and highlights how and why some people are more vulnerable to the effects of the media than others. The effect of media images is not straightforward and varies according to aspects of the advertising image, as demonstrated by examinations of comparison motives activated by particular advertising slogans or the degree of sexualization of an image, and by individual differences in the consumers of these images. Therefore, it is likely that the influence of media images on an individual's body image will vary across time and situation. However, the majority of the experimental and prospective research confirms that exposure to idealized media images does have a negative impact on many people.

Keywords: body image; media; physical attractiveness; sexualization

Article.  9789 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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