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The Effects of Thin and Heavy Media Images on Overweight and Underweight Consumers: Social Comparison Processes and Behavioral Implications


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  • Dirk Smeesters
  • Thomas Mussweiler
  • Naomi Mandel
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    This study examines how advertisements containing thin or heavy models influence the self-esteem of overweight, normal, and underweight consumers. Previous research has mainly examined the influences of variations of the comparison standard on self-evaluative outcomes, whereas we examine how the relative position of the self on the comparison dimension may moderate these effects. Three studies manipulated the size (thin vs. heavy) and extremity of the size (moderate vs. extreme) of advertising models and exposed these images to individuals differing in Body Mass Index (BMI) levels. Our findings indicate that social comparison processes and subsequent self-evaluative and behavioral outcomes are different for individuals differing in their BMI. (c) 2009 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (04)
    Pages: 930-949

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:36:y:2010:i:6:p:930-949

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    Cited by:
    1. Denise Janssen & Leonard Paas, 2014. "Moderately thin advertising models are optimal, most of the time: Moderating the quadratic effect of model body size on ad attitude by fashion leadership," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 167-177, June.
    2. Wan, Fang & Ansons, Tamara L. & Chattopadhyay, Amitava & Leboe, Jason P., 2013. "Defensive reactions to slim female images in advertising: The moderating role of mode of exposure," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 37-46.


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