Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Lavine, Howard

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Television advertising--Psychological aspects; Women in advertising--Psychological aspects; Body image in women; Women--Psychology


The purpose of this study was to test a model which predicted that exposure to the woman as sex object subtype via TV advertisements would cause an increased discrepancy between women’s actual and ideal body images, leading to body dissatisfaction, and that increased body dissatisfaction would, in turn, lead to lower self-esteem, depression, and an increased preoccupation with dieting. In addition, it was predicted that the effects of ad exposure would be greater in those who were low, rather than high, in feminism, and that exposure to sexist ads would have an adverse effect on self-esteem due to activation of a negative in-group stereotype. One hundred and fifty-nine undergraduate female psychology students participated in a two-session experiment. In the first session, participants were pretested on their attitudes toward feminism. In the second session, subjects were exposed to either sexist ads (in which women were portrayed as sex objects) or neutral ads and then completed a questionnaire containing measures of body-size discrepancy, body dissatisfaction, self-esteem, depression, and preoccupation with dieting. Results revealed a significant relationship between body-size discrepancy and self-esteem, depression, and preoccupation with dieting and that this relationship was fully mediated by body dissatisfaction. However, ad exposure did not have an effect on body-size discrepancy nor on self-esteem. Finally, exploratory analyses revealed a significant direct effect of ad exposure on preoccupation with dieting. Both theoretical and applied implications of these results are discussed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [78]-85)


vi, 115 pages




Northern Illinois University

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