Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

J. Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.


Media images, Attractiveness, Appearance schematicity, Female-ideal internalization, Prevention


The adverse effect of the exposure to images of attractive females on women's body image and mood has been well-documented in studies conducted in various western and westernized nations. However, research designed to determine the effect of exposure to attractive female images on men has been rather neglected. Past findings indicate that after being exposed to exceptionally attractive female images, males report less satisfaction for a current relationship, rate average-looking females as less attractive, and express less affection for their significant other compared to those men exposed to control images. It is currently not known, however, whether a psychoeducational intervention might prevent the negative media exposure effect. Additionally, it is not known if the exposure effect might be moderated by dispositional characteristics of the participant.

This study was designed to determine if a psychoeducational manipulation consisting of information regarding the unrealistic appearance standards currently required of women would mitigate the ratings men give of average-looking women following exposure to attractive images. Additionally, two dispositional measures were included (appearance-schematicity and female-ideal internalization) in order to evaluate whether these trait levels would moderate the effects of the exposure manipulation.the participants were 159 male undergraduate students between 18 and 30 years of age. The majority (57%) of them were Caucasian, followed by 19% who were Hispanic/Latino and 11% who were African-American. Their mean age was 19.80 (SD = 2.06) and mean BMI was 24.90 (SD = 4.20). Most of them (42%) were not seeing anyone currently, whereas 39% of them were in a committed relationship. The findings partially supported the hypotheses.

The males who were exposed to the attractive female images evaluated average females less physically attractive than those exposed to a control condition (inanimate objects); however, the psychoeducation did not reduce the adverse exposure effect. Instead, the combination of neutral audio-information and control exposure condition resulted in the most favorable ratings of average females. Regarding dispositional characteristics, female-ideal internalization was associated with the loss of interest in dating average females and the overestimation of a current partner's weight after the experiment. The limitations and implications of the study findings are discussed.