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The effect of social comparison and body adaptation on body dissatisfaction and size perception
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 02:04 authored by Jessica Ledger
The concept of body image incorporates two main aspects: perception and attitudes. Recent perception research has focused on how extended exposure to extreme body shapes can change perceptions of our own and other people's bodies, a process known as adaptation, while research into attitudinal aspects of body image has investigated the relationship between body dissatisfaction and social comparison - the process of comparing oneself to another. However, body image research has yet to investigate the relationship between adaptation and social comparison. In this study, we examined how the extent to which participants made social comparisons and the direction of their social comparisons affected change in perceived body size and change in body satisfaction, in a sample of 67 women aged between 18 and 35. Participants adjusted the shape of manipulated images of themselves to the size they perceived to be their current shape before and after exposure to adaptation images that varied in body fat (high or low) and facial attractiveness (high or low).Contrary to our hypotheses, we found no relationship between participants' state appearance comparisons and change in perceived body size and although participants who made upwards comparisons selected a larger body shape than participants who made downward comparisons, this difference was not significant. As shown in previous research and in line with our hypotheses, participants who made upwards comparisons towards the adaptation images became more dissatisfied and participants who made downwards comparisons did not experience a change of body satisfaction and participants that made upwards comparisons to low body fat adaptors became more dissatisfied with their body. These findings provide preliminary evidence to suggest that perception and attitudes may not be independent of each other and effects on one can alter the other - abstract.