Campus Access Only
All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of University of the Pacific. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.
Date of Award
Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted
Master of Arts (M.A.)
First Committee Member
Gary N. Howells
Second Committee Member
Media sources, often containing ideal body images, put forth the message of selfimprovement and the need to achieve a thin physique. For some women, striving to achieve an ideal body can lead to increased risk of engaging in disordered eating, anxiety, and an increased fixation toward body or weight stimuli. Previous research examining the relationship between body satisfaction and attention toward body related stimuli has often compared clinical eating disorder and non-clinical samples. However, these findings do not give an accurate picture of how non-clinical samples respond to thin body images. The present study sought to determine if engaging in a downward social comparison would negate the "fixation" or increased attention given to body images.
Female participants from a university in northern California were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions: downward or upward social comparison. Participants were asked to view an advertisement of a model, and write based on a
prompt developed to elicit a downward or upward social comparison. Selective attention toward body related stimuli was then assessed through use of a Stroop task, which randomly displayed thin female silhouettes and abstract images. Error rates and reaction times were recorded, with more errors and slower reactions times reflecting increased attention toward the female silhouette.
A hierarchal linear regression found an association for the downward social comparison condition and self-esteem. Longer reaction time toward body images was seen among women who engaged in a downward social comparison and had low levels of self-esteem. Among women with high BMI, less selective attention was observed. Comparisons of the groups on reaction times, error rates, and body image measures are discussed.
Lowry, Lynda S.. (2011). The effect of social comparisons on selective attention : an image based Stroop task. University of the Pacific, Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted. https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/uop_etds/788
To access this thesis/dissertation you must have a valid pacific.edu email address and log-in to Scholarly Commons.Find in PacificSearch
If you are the author and would like to grant permission to make your work openly accessible, please email
In Copyright. URI: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).