Self-Schema and Social Comparison Explanations of Body Dissatisfaction: A Laboratory Investigation

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Body image, Social comparison, Cognitive priming, Mood

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The current study was an investigation of the self-schema and social comparison theories of body dissatisfaction. The social comparison manipulation consisted of exposure to one of three levels of comparison figure: upward, downward, or no comparison. Two different imagery exercises served to prime either a participants’ appearance self-schema, or a non-appearance schema. Participants completed state measures of body image and mood at pre- and posttest. Results indicated no significant interaction between priming and social comparison and no significant main effect for priming. However, there was a significant effect of social comparison, such that those in the downward comparison condition showed an increase in body satisfaction and positive mood. Results are discussed in the context of self-schema theory and social comparison, and suggestions are given for future research that might further shed light on these theoretical approaches for understanding body dissatisfaction.

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Body Image, v. 4, issue 1, p. 29-38