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Keywords:

  • social comparison;
  • thin ideal;
  • body dissatisfaction;
  • negative affect

Abstract

Objective

Although social comparison with media-portrayed thin-ideal images has been found to increase body dissatisfaction and negative affect, research has not yet tested whether social comparison with attractive peers in the real world produces similar effects.

Method

We randomly assigned 119 young women to interact either with a confederate who conformed to the thin ideal or one who conformed to the average body dimensions of women, within the context of an ostensive dating study.

Results

Exposure to the thin-ideal confederate resulted in an increase in body dissatisfaction but not negative affect or heart rate. Initial thin-ideal internalization, perceived sociocultural pressure, self-esteem, and observer-rated attractiveness did not moderate these effects.

Discussion

Results suggest that social comparative pressure to be thin fosters body dissatisfaction but may not promote negative affect. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.