Date Thesis Awarded


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Janice Zeman

Committee Members

Scott Ickes

Robert Scholnick


The current study examines the effectiveness of a large-scale policy mandating disclaimers on media images that promote the thin ideal of beauty in reducing body image concerns and disordered eating behaviors among college-aged women. Participants were 97 female college students from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds (67% white/Caucasian). Participants were randomly assigned to either the disclaimer or the control condition. In the disclaimer condition, participants viewed a set of magazine images of the thin ideal with disclaimers with the statement: “Caution: This image has been digitally altered to change the subject’s appearance. This is not an accurate representation of the subject’s shape and/or weight.” In the control condition, participants viewed an identical set of magazine images without the disclaimers. Levels of thin ideal internalization, social comparison, body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and self-esteem were measured before and after the experimental manipulation. Between samples t-tests revealed no significant differences in levels of the dependent variables between the conditions at baseline and post-manipulation. Paired samples t-tests that measured changes within conditions from baseline to post-manipulation revealed significant decreases in self-esteem in both conditions and significant increases in thin ideal internalization in the disclaimer condition. Participants who scored higher than the norm for college students on a standard measure of disordered eating behavior and body image concerns demonstrated significant increases in thin ideal internalization and significant decreases in self-esteem from baseline to post-manipulation. The main implications of the study are that viewing media images of the thin ideal differentially affects women at high risk for eating disorders, and disclaimers are likely not an effective means to prevent body image concerns and disordered eating behaviors associated with viewing images of the thin ideal.

Available for download on Sunday, May 05, 2019