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The effect of priming materialism on women's responses to thin-ideal media


Eleni-Marina Ashikali, School of Psychology, Pevensey 1, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK (e-mail:


Consumer culture is characterized by two prominent ideals: the ‘body perfect’ and the material ‘good life’. Although the impact of these ideals has been investigated in separate research literatures, no previous research has examined whether materialism is linked to women's responses to thin-ideal media. Data from several studies confirm that the internalization of materialistic and body-ideal values is positively linked in women. After developing a prime for materialism (N= 50), we present an experimental examination (N= 155) of the effects of priming materialism on women's responses to thin-ideal media, using multiple outcome measures of state body dissatisfaction. Priming materialism affects women's body dissatisfaction after exposure to thin media models, but differently depending on the dimension of body image measured. The two main novel findings are that (1) priming materialism heightens the centrality of appearance to women's self-concept and (2) priming materialism influences the activation of body-related self-discrepancies (BRSDs), particularly for highly materialistic women. Exposure to materialistic media has a clear influence on women's body image, with trait materialism a further vulnerability factor for negative exposure effects in response to idealized, thin media models.