Final Paper

Claudia Claudio

Comm 412 Media Effects

Portland State University

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

            In the presented research, the correlation between Facebook’s female self-objectification images and perceived self-dissatisfaction of body ideal images will be examined. Historically, women have been pressured to look a certain way (e.g. large breasts, small waist, and large buttocks) however with modern day digital media these pressures have grown within society. This research is socially relevant given the increase of digital media exposure on social media platforms such as Facebook, that expose women of all ages to female self-objectification images that are shared on Facebook profiles. This presented research will contribute to previous findings that have examined media influences on women’s body image idealization by conducting research on female self-objectification and the perceived self-dissatisfaction of body images. The importance of conducting this research will be beneficial for future generations of women who are being raised in the modern day digital media world because social media concerns can be addressed through the presented research findings. Communication theories on cultivation and social learning further evaluate the effects of media consumption that can occur within an individual.

Analyzed Literature

According to cultivation theory and social learning theory, repeated exposure to media content leads viewers to begin to accept media portrayals as representations of reality (Grabe et al., 2008). Cultivation theory presents the long-term effects that are associated with media consumption given an excess consumption of media can result in unrealistic perceptions. Social learning theory describes the behavioral outcomes people can develop by observing the behavior of others (Grabe et al., 2008). When analyzing the effects of female self-objectification in Facebook images, it is critical to consider how both theories provide a foundation for understanding the process of how self-dissatisfaction could develop in women. When a heavy exposure of female self-objectification Facebook images takes place, this may cause unrealistic perceptions for the viewer which is why it is important to be provide research that can be generalizable across various areas of within society that affect women’s personal views of body image.

For this research, the media effects of Facebook female self-objectification profile images correlation with self-dissatisfaction will be examined to the extent in which women portray self-objectification images as a representation of the realistic ideal body image. Facebook has made it possible to stay connected with others, but it also has caused a disconnection. Women have developed a perception of the ideal body and they have also grown to become disconnected with reality that the average woman doesn’t have the perfect body. This mediated reality once again falls in line with cultivation theory. A previous meta-analysis examined the role of media in body image concerns in four categories of outcome variables; 1) body dissatisfaction, 2) body self-consciousness/objectification, 3) internalization and 4) eating behaviors/beliefs (Grabe et al., 2008). The study conducted used a total of 90 previous studies on body image within the four categories of outcome variables listed above while using a variety of scales that specifically described measuring global body dissatisfaction. The goal of the study was to directly test the association between the use of media and women’s body image and related concerns (Grabe et al., 2008). The empirical findings of these research provide strong support for the notion that exposure to mass media depicting the thin-ideal body is related to women’s vulnerability to disturbances relation to body image (Grabe et al., 2008). The findings suggest that media exposure is linked to women’s generalized dissatisfaction with their bodies, increased investment in appearance, and increased endorsement of disordered eating behaviors (Grabe et al., 2008). This research study can be connected to other similar research that has been conducted on body image concerns and media effects to assist a better understanding of the correlation between the two topics.

A previous research of comparative effects of Facebook and conventional media on body image dissatisfaction aimed to determine whether the relationship between appearance comparison and body image dissatisfaction would be stronger for those exposed to social media images, compared to conventional media images (Blaszczynski, A. & Cohen, R., 2015). Blaszczynski and Cohen (2015). The research sampled 193 females first year university students who were randomly allocated to view a series of either Facebook or conventional media thin-ideal images. Participants completed questionnaires assessing pre- and post- image exposure measures of thin-ideal internalization, appearance comparison, self-esteem, Facebook use and eating disorder risk (p.3). The results concluded that this type of exposure was not found to moderate the relationship between appearance comparison and changes in body image dissatisfaction. When analyzed according to exposure type, appearance comparison only significantly predicted body image dissatisfaction change for those exposed to Facebook, but not conventional media (p.4). Facebook use was found to predict higher baseline body image dissatisfaction and was associated with higher eating disorder risk. Blaszczynski and Cohen (2015) findings suggest the importance of extending the body image dissatisfaction literature by considering emerging social media formats. Creating research that focuses on the effects social media sites like Facebook have on women’s ideal body image is important to discuss because currently with the innovation of technology more and more women are being exposed to female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction. In connection to these findings it is important to present previous research that discusses the link between Facebook users and non-users self-dissatisfaction.

In a previous research, researchers examined if Facebook is linked to body dissatisfaction when comparing users and non-users (Stronge et al., 2015). Researchers aimed to evaluate reported body dissatisfaction in New Zealand with a sample across different age cohorts, in the face of an increasingly media saturated environment, and in the rising use of social media (p.200). With a focus on cross-sectional data collected in 2012 and a longitudinal panel study based on a national probability sample of New Zealand adults, results showed that for both men and women, Facebook users reported significantly lower body satisfaction than non-users (p.207). Specific results indicated that middle-aged women who are Facebook users reported significantly lower body satisfaction than both older and younger age cohorts, thus showing the greatest difference between Facebook users and non-users (p.208). Stronge et al., (2015) findings suggest that people who use Facebook were less satisfied with their appearance than people who do not use Facebook at all or regularly (p.211). These findings further contribute to the importance of conducting a research on the media effects of Facebook female self-objectification profile images correlation with self-dissatisfaction. To further add to the findings done by Stronge et al., (2015) a broader scope on the effects of social media and body image concerns on adolescent girls will be discussed. Although, the presented research that will be conducted on female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction hopes to study women of all ages it is critical to touch on the relationship between social media and adolescent girls. This is important to examine when conducting research on female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction because so many adolescent girls are found to be vulnerable to the effects of mass media in general.

A previous research presented a prospective study which examined the relationship across time between Facebook use and body image concern in adolescent girls (Slater, A., Tiggemann, M, 2017). The study took a sample of 438 girls in the first two years (Years 8 and 9) of high school (aged 13-15 years) that completed questionnaire measures of Facebook consumption and body image concerns (time 1), and again two years later (time 2) (p.80). Slater et al., (2017) findings        concluded that Facebook involvement increased substantially over the two-year time period and body image concerns also increased (p.81). The number of Facebook friends was found to prospectively predict the observed increase in the drive for thinness. On the other hand, internalization and body surveillance prospectively predicted the observed increase in the number of Facebook friends. Slater et al., (2017) concluded that Facebook “friendships” represent a potent sociocultural force in the body image of adolescent girls (p.82). Slater et al., (2017) findings further support the need for future research on the correlation between female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction given there was not a focus on the time spent on Facebook but rather just the number of friends that adolescent girls engaged with on Facebook. For the presented research of the correlation between female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction, it will be interesting to examine how time spent on Facebook and the engagement women of all ages encounter on Facebook effect the perceived mediated reality on the ideal body image which could further provide evidence of social media’s effects that are continuous in modern day society. As a society that has grown with the development of digital media the presented study could contribute to the understanding of how much women are affected by the female self-objectification images that are viewed purposely and un-purposely. For this purpose, it is important to touch on the topic of mental health within women’s body image (Cussins, A. 2001). Cussins (2001) focuses on the relation between body image and women’s mental health and how society and women themselves could begin to counteract the effects of being sold unrealistically thin, ideal images of womanhood (p. 105). Cussins (2001) summarizes how society must take an aim at demanding magazines and advertising to show a variety of shapes and sizes as normal, healthy and attractive. To conduct the presented research on female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction a framework of the steps that will be taken to test the research must be presented.

Conceptual Variables and Present Hypothesis

For the presented research, an independent and dependent variable will be presented to stay in correlation with the study topic of female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction. The independent variable is, shared Facebook images of female self-objectification and the dependent variable is the self-dissatisfaction affects these self-objectification images have on women. The independent variable will not change during the study as it will provide the cause for which the dependent variable will provide various effects. The social media platform Facebook is a great place to conduct research because of the previous research findings it has provided in similar topics of discussion and for the collection of data it has yet to provide future research with. If the presented research can provide insight to the relationship between social media female self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction it could possibly provide future generations of women with developing a depth and breadth understanding of how social media affects our daily lives when observing female self-objectification images. Two hypotheses will follow logical of the review and analysis of previous researches findings that were discussed earlier in this paper. Hypothesis (1) women will be more likely to be affected by self-dissatisfaction from the exposure to female self-objectification images on Facebook. Hypothesis (2) women will be more likely to not be affected by self-dissatisfaction from the exposure to female self-objectification images on Facebook.

The presented hypotheses both predict specific outcomes that the presented research could have on women who are users of the social media platform Facebook, and who are exposed to female self-objectification images. In two previous researches that are follow ups of each other, they offer important information that share a common interest on the topics of social media and body image concerns (Perloff, R., 2014). The first research presents a series of ideas and framework to guide future research on social media effects on body image concerns of young women. Although the presented research is targeted towards women of all ages these previous researches can still provide knowledge and understanding of the self-dissatisfaction effects social media can cause on women. Perloff (2014) study focuses on the effects social media has on young women’s body images like mass media images of body idealization such as body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and thin body idea. Perloff (2014) used four methods to address social media effects on body image concerns of young women; (1) presented a schematic model of social media effects on body image dynamics that can guide scholarship, (2) seemed to stimulate research by offering a number of theoretically-grounded predictions about social media influences on young women’s body image concerns, (3) seemed to bridge social psychological and communication research terrains, integrating theoretical areas, such as norms, social comparisons, and media influences, (4) given the sociocultural role that media play in the development of body image and eating disorders, an in-depth focus on contemporary social media effects could shed light on some of the underlying dynamics of body image concerns (p.364). Perloff (2014) concluded that there is still a lot of research to develop from the effects social media channels have on body image concerns, and theoretically-based studies could offer insights into striking effects that new media exert on young adult women, while also generating strategies to help women and men of a variety of ethnic groups adopt healthier attitudes toward their bodies (p.373). The second research that followed Perloff (2014), studied social media effects and young women’s body image concerns (Prieler, M., & Choi, J., 2014). The purpose of this study is to further broaden the various variables that affect women and ideal body images. The paper suggests that Perloff (2014) model could be improved by accounting for cultural factors such as ethnicity, nationally, or self-construal along with exploring beyond the thin ideal which include skin color ideals or body/face ideals to further investigate body image related issues within women (Prieler et al., 2014) (p.81). In order to conduct the presented research, methods must also be presented in which the research can properly be conducted for effective findings.

Methods for Collecting Data and Testing Hypotheses

            For the presented research to have effective generalizable results, qualitative research would be the best approach. A longitudinal survey of open-ended questions that would be collected at multiple points over a time frame of two years will be produced. Using a longitudinal survey would be appropriate for the presented study because women participants of all ages ranging from 12 to 65 years old (generally speaking) and of all cultural backgrounds could better provide generalizable results. There would be ten open-ended questions: (1) how much time do you spend on Facebook? (2) what are your thoughts about Facebook?, (3) have you ever posted female self-objectification images and if so why?, (4) name your favorite body part, (5) do you care about your self-image and if so why?, (6) what’s your favorite Facebook feature?, (7) how long have you been a Facebook user?, (8) what are your thoughts on social media?, (9) what are your thoughts on body image?, (10) name a self-dissatisfaction you may have?. The expected results of the open-ended questions over a time span of two years could support hypothesis (1) women will be more likely to be affected by self-dissatisfaction from the exposure to female self-objectification images on Facebook because a comparison of answers from the two years could determine the effects of self-objectification images and self-dissatisfaction. Limitations to this presented research must also be explained for other future research.

Limitations

The limitations of this presented research on Facebook female self-objectification images and perceive self-dissatisfaction of body ideal images would be non-consistent within participants to continue involvement with the research.  The measure of variables may also provide limitations given that shared images that are selected for analysis may not share female self-objectification images over the time span of two years or maybe two years isn’t enough time to conduct the presented study. Causality may be limited has there may not be enough actions to cause reasoning of self-dissatisfaction. Rival explanations may also cause limitations as other research have the possibility of presenting stronger and more relational results that examined further than just female self-objectification and self-dissatisfaction. Spuriousness is not ruled out so that may also cause limitations for obtaining generalizable results. Future research could observe the effects social media has on self-objectification of women but also on men given men are also vulnerable towards self-objections during this modern day of high volumes of social media images exposure. Overall, there is a great need to research the correlation between social media site Facebook female self-objectification images and perceived self-dissatisfaction of body ideal images.

 

 

 

 

Reference

 

Blaszczynski, A. & Cohen, R. (2015). Comparative effects of Facebook and conventional media on body image dissatisfaction. Journal of Eating Disorders, 1-11.

 

Cussins, A. (2001). The Role of Body Image in Women’s Mental Health. Feminist Review, (68),  105-114.

 

Grabe, S., Hyde, J., & Ward, M. (2008). The Role of the Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental and Correlational Studies. Psychological Bulletin,  Vol. 134, No. 3, 460–473.

 

Perloff, R. (2014). Social Media Effects on Young Women’s Body Image Concerns: Theoretical Perspectives and an Agenda for Research. Sex Roles, 71(11-12), 363-377.

 

Prieler, M., & Choi, J. (2014). Broadening the Scope of Social Media Effect Research on Body Image Concerns. Sex Roles, 71(11-12), 378-388.

 

Slater, A., Tiggemann, M . (2017 ). Facebook and Body Image Concern in Adolescent Girls: A Prospective Study. International Journal of Eating Disorders,50:1 80–83.73(5-6), 200-213.

 

Stronge, S., Greaves, L., Milojev, P., West-Newman, T., Barlow, F., & Sibley, C. (2015). Facebook is Linked to Body Dissatisfaction: Comparing Users and Non-Users. Sex Roles,