What does viewing a pro-anorexia website do? an experimental examination of website exposure and moderating effects




This study experimentally examined the effects of viewing a pro-anorexia website.


Following construction of a prototypic pro-anorexia website, 235 female undergraduates were randomly assigned to view either the pro-anorexia website or one of two comparison websites related to female fashion (using average-sized models) or home décor. Post-website affect, cognitions, and behavioral expectations were examined along with moderator effects.


Study participants exposed to the pro-anorexia website had greater negative affect, lower social self-esteem, and lower appearance self-efficacy post-website than those who viewed a comparison website. Additionally, they perceived themselves as heavier, reported a greater likelihood of exercising and thinking about their weight in the near future, and engaged in more image comparison. Minimal support was found for moderator effects.


Results provide an empirical basis for concern (expressed by clinicians, researchers, the media) that pro-anorexia websites are a troubling new form of thin-ideal exposure that warrants further examination. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.