Contrast Or Assimilation Effect As a Result of Upward Social Comparison With Idealized Images: the Role of Mode of Exposure and Priming

Fang Wan, University of Manitoba, Canada
Tamara Ansons, University of Manitoba, Canada
Jason Leboe, University of Manitoba, Canada
Dirk Smeesters, Erasmus University, The Netherlands
The purpose of this research is to investigate how idealized images in advertising affect young women’s self perceptions within the framework of social comparison theory. In particular, we propose that social comparison process can take place via either an implicit or an explicit route. An implicit social comparison, when taking place automatically, can lower viewers’ self-perception and body satisfaction and lead to a contrast effect. However, when taking place within the scope of viewers’ attention and awareness, an explicit social comparison will allow viewers’ to engage in conscious efforts to boost their own self-esteem through counter-argument, leading to an assimilation effect. We tested these propositions with three experiments.
[ to cite ]:
Fang Wan, Tamara Ansons, Jason Leboe, and Dirk Smeesters (2009) ,"Contrast Or Assimilation Effect As a Result of Upward Social Comparison With Idealized Images: the Role of Mode of Exposure and Priming", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 757-759.