Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Matthew P. Winslow

Abstract

Previous research has found that both print media and television may affect the body image of young women. Tiggerman and Pickering (1996) found that it was not just the amount of television viewed, but the viewing of appearance focused shows that affected body image. Schooler, Ward, Merriwether and Caruthers (2004) came to the conclusion that women's viewing of shows with predominantly white casts lead to greater body dissatisfaction. To date, no investigations have looked at a new and popular genre, categorized as, `reality television'. The purpose of this study was examine the effects of viewing this new genre and its impact on women's body image.

The research participants were 82 female undergraduate students at Eastern Kentucky University who were asked to fill out two surveys. One survey assessed television-viewing habits. This survey was made up of the twelve highest rated scripted television shows and the twelve highest rated reality television shows, as reported by the Nielsen Company. To measure the frequency of television viewing, a Likert scale with values ranging from 1 (I have never watched it) to 5 (I watch it every week/ I've never missed an episode) was used. To measure body image, the three subscales of the Body-Esteem Scale were used (Franzoi & Shields, 1984).

The results indicated that there was no relationship between television viewing and body image. None of three subscales of the Body-Esteem Scale (Weight Concern, Sexual Attractiveness, and Physical Condition), were significantly correlated with either reality television or scripted television viewing. Discussion focuses on both the limitations of the research and the possible implications of the null results.

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