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Like for Like: The Effect of Idealised Instagram Photos on the Body Satisfaction of Young Girls

Milson, Rhea (2019) Like for Like: The Effect of Idealised Instagram Photos on the Body Satisfaction of Young Girls. Northumbria University Newcastle. (Unpublished)


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Background: Previous research has reported that idealised photos on Instagram negatively affect the body satisfaction of teenage girls, and that social comparison tendencies mediate this effect (Kleemans, Daalmans, Carbaat & Anschütz, 2016). However, the previous research has many methodological limitations which need to be addressed. Furthermore, little research has explored this effect in younger girls.Objectives: This study aimed to investigate how social comparison tendencies predict changes in the body satisfaction of young girls, and how exposure to edited and unedited photos influence this relationship.Methods: An experimental multi regressional design was used for this study, to improve upon the methodological flaws of previous research. Opportunity sampling recruited 63 female participants aged 8-12 years, who completed measures of social comparison tendencies and body satisfaction. Participants were then exposed to edited or unedited Instagram photos and completed the measure of body satisfaction for a second time. Results: The main findings were that social comparison tendencies did not significantly predict changes in body satisfaction, and exposure to edited/unedited photos did not influence this relationship. Conclusions: Potential implications include improving education for pre-teens regarding photo retouching on Instagram, in order to reduce the negative effects of exposure to these images, during teenage years. Future research ideas include exploring a critical period during the transition from childhood to adolescence, in which girls may become more vulnerable to the effects of viewing idealised Instagram photos, due to a change in the frequency or nature of social comparisons during this critical period.

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