Akhtar, Ammaarah (2017) Investigating moderators of the effects of attractiveness-focused media articles on self-esteem. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Self-esteem has been identified as an important factor in contributing to the mental health and well-being of individuals. Previous research has indicated that self-esteem can be negatively affected by exposure to attractiveness-related media, but there is little previous research investigating individual differences in these effects. The present study investigates sex differences, and contingent self-worth and sociocultural attitudes towards appearance as potential moderators of the effects of exposure to attractiveness-related media articles on self-esteem. 170 participants were randomly allocated to either a positive or negative experimental condition, in which they were exposed to a media article depicting either a highly attractive or unattractive celebrity respectively, or a control condition, in which they viewed a neutral advertisement article. Prior to this, all participants completed measures of contingent self-worth and sociocultural attitudes towards appearance, and self-esteem was measured both before and after exposure to the articles. Results indicated that following the experimental manipulation, relative to those in the control condition, participants in the positive condition reported significantly decreased, and participants in the negative condition reported significantly increased self-esteem. Unexpectedly no significant sex differences were found, suggesting that both male and female self-esteem can be influenced by such media articles. Multiple regression analyses revealed that both contingent self-worth and sociocultural attitudes towards appearance significantly moderated the effects of the experimental conditions such that participants who reported higher levels of these variables were significantly more affected by the experimental conditions. These results are discussed in relation to previous research and theory, and the limitations and practical implications of the study are explored.

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