The survey was intended for assessment of TV impact on the self-perception and the body image of university students. It found out that indeed TV shows, commercials and programs impact not only self-esteem but also the desire to adhere to different diets and exercises by both females and males.
The negative body image was the result of watching TV as well as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia nervosa. The TV influenced the participants of the study to engage in excessive dieting and exercise. The study found out that watching abnormally slim models on TV contributed to low self-esteem in American females. The impact of TV on males was also reported yet one did not explore that in the study. Overall, viewing slim models on TV made most participants feel worse about themselves than when watching TV shows picturing normal and overweight people.
Normal and overweight people did not pose any ‘danger’ to self-esteem and self-perception of participating females. One can assume that as the it appears to be rather prestigious to appear in mass media and since only stereotypical models appear there, ‘normal females’ feel somewhat inferior as they do not make up to that chosen group.
The study was conducted at California State University at San Marcos in 2006 and was based on the questionnaires filled out by 50 haphazardly chosen university females. The questionnaires were anonymous and voluntary, which meant that participants had an opportunity to freely express themselves without fear of being mocked. The study used descriptive statistics and multidimensional media influence scale. The appearance schemas inventory assessed females’ beliefs about their current physical appearance as well as the importance of that appearance in life.
The questionnaires were previously approved by the California State University at San Marcos Institutional Review Board and the optimal plan of participation was developed. Females over 18 years of age were approached in the university cafeteria, library and class to assure haphazard selection. The students were informed about their roles in the survey and went through four kinds of magazines, assign special body shape codes and fill out two different surveys each taking under 5 minutes. The researcher informed each participant of details of the study and encouraged them to ask questions about questionnaires should participants fail to understand questions or anything. Such approach certainly meant that participants were capable of adhering to the expectations and accurately fill out the surveys.
The results of the study proved that indeed TV had negatively impacted the self-perception of females and their view of their bodies. The hypothesis that mass media negatively impacts female’s body image proved true.
The highest impact mass media had in the following areas:
- TV teaches females how to look attractive. (X=3.92)
- Movies provide females with ideas how to look attractive (X=3.92)
- Magazines hint females (teach females) how to look attractive (X=3.92).
One was surprised to find out that while mass media indeed teaches females how to look attractive, females do not compare their bodies to the bodies of athletes presented in magazines (x=3.46)). I would get distracted here to point out that such figures are probably low because females, unlike males credit clothes and cosmetics, rather than bodies. I believe males would be more likely to compare their bodies to the bodies of athletes.
In order to better understand the figures one should remain aware that the participating females answered the following statements in the following way:
- Ageing will make females less attractive (x=3.9)
- People will notice what gets wrong with female’s appearance (x=1.72).
Once again it was rather surprising to find out such low score for the second question as I always thought that females were obsessed with their appearance and would certainly consider other people as paying much attention to their appearance. The fact that most of them thought that people will not pay much attention to their appearance might also be interpreted as a low self-esteem.
The statistics used in the research prove adherence to the highest standards and little error. By looking at internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha) one finds out that the statistics were accurate and consistent.
The use of descriptive statistics, namely the means, frequencies, SDs, and Pearson Product Moment Correlational statistics was conducted on:
- Items 1-14 on the Multidimensional Media Influence Scale and subscales, namely “Internalization”, “Importance”, “Comparison”, and “Awareness”.
- Appearance Schemas Inventory and subscales, namely “Body Image Vulnerability”, “Self-Investment”, and “Appearance Stereotyping”.
The high means for “Body Image Vulnerability” signifies exactly what the research strives to prove, i.e. mass media has a deleterious effect on the female’s self-esteem, and perception of their bodies. Lowest mean for “Self-investment” means that much less females benefit from mass media in terms of how to stay slim, attractive and slender. “Appearance stereotyping” section provided the researches with the information that females indeed understood that the body images in the media were stereotyped and stigmatized. Still the correlation between the “Body Image Vulnerability” and “Appearance Stereotyping” proves that despite understanding that media models were stereotypical, they still negatively influence the self-perception in participating females and lowered their self-esteem.