The Effects of Thin and Heavy Media Images on Overweight and Underweight Consumers

Dirk Smeesters, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Thomas Mussweiler, University of Cologne, Germany
Naomi Mandel, Arizona State University
We examine how advertisements containing thin and/or heavy models influence the self-esteem of overweight and underweight consumers. Our findings in three studies suggest that when exposed to either thin or heavy models, underweight consumers' self-esteem shifts upward and overweight consumers' self-esteem shifts downward, due to differences in comparative processes. Our results suggest that underweight consumers exhibit higher self-esteem after exposure to any models because they feel similar to thin standards and dissimilar to heavy standards, while overweight consumers show lower self-esteem after exposure to any models because they feel similar to heavy standards and dissimilar to thin standards.
[ to cite ]:
Dirk Smeesters, Thomas Mussweiler, and Naomi Mandel (2008) ,"The Effects of Thin and Heavy Media Images on Overweight and Underweight Consumers", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 205-208.