Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2007

Capstone Advisor

Professor Joshua Smyth

Honors Reader

Professor Bruce Carter

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Other Psychology | Psychology | Social Psychology


Many women are not satisfied with their current body figures and frequently attempt to improve their figure. Body image discrepancies occur when a comparison between “actual” self to either “ought” or “ideal” selves don’t match up. If there is a difference between these two self-guides then a discrepancy exists. According to a national survey, half of women report negative evaluations of their appearance and worry about being or becoming overweight. One of the strongest socio-cultural pressures that women face with their body image is the media, such as magazines and television. Studies have shown that when exposed to thin body images depicted in the media, women often experience body dissatisfaction. Studies on the media and body dissatisfaction have, in general, only been conducted in a laboratory setting, which has limited ecological validity. Additionally, some findings are problematic because self-reported data can be systematically biased if they require participants to recall information over long periods of time. This study uses Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to record daily media usage and body image discrepancies in participants’ natural environment at the moment(s) it occurs. During a two-week period, 63 female college undergraduates carried a Palm Pilot and when an alarm sounded (5 times daily) they reported television and magazine usage and body image discrepancies. On average, women reported having watched television during 28% of the assessments. During these times, they most often watched comedies (37.7% of the time), dramas (23.2%) and reality programs (23%). Individuals read magazines during 3% of the reports, most commonly read beauty (65.2%) and gossip magazines (42.5%). Results show that women reported body image dissatisfaction yet there was no momentary relationship between media exposure and body image discrepancy in these women’s daily lives. Women reporting more self-objectification or disordered eating watched more television and read more magazines, respectively. Discussion addresses future directions relating EMA usage and body image discrepancy and other ways media effects women.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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