Date Thesis Awarded

4-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Dr. Catherine Forestell

Committee Members

Dr. Cheryl Dickter

Dr. Kenneth Kambis

Dr. Meghan Sinton

Abstract

The goal of this study was to determine whether exposure to commercials featuring thin versus plus-size women affected women’s implicit cognitive responses to food. One hundred sixteen college-age women watched a neutral film interrupted by two commercials. The second commercial contained a thin woman (n = 39), a plus-size woman (n = 38), or was a neutral commercial with no human actors (n = 39). After the video, participants completed visual analog scales for state body dissatisfaction and explicit ratings of liking and wanting of healthy and unhealthy foods. In addition, to measure responses to healthy and unhealthy foods, participants completed two implicit cognitive tasks: the Affective Misattribution Procedure (AMP) and the flanker task, which measured evaluation of and implicit attention to foods, respectively. Results revealed that the experimental manipulation did not affect women’s body dissatisfaction, nor their evaluation of food. Regardless of their group, women evaluated the unhealthy foods more positively than the neutral items. However, those who viewed the plus-size model commercial experienced response conflict in the flanker task only when healthy targets were flanked by unhealthy distractors. These results suggest that although watching plus-size models may not shift women’s body dissatisfaction or their evaluation of foods, they become distracted by unhealthy foods. This may reduce their subsequent ability to resist consuming unhealthy food.

Available for download on Monday, May 03, 2021

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