The study in question which is to be published in the British Journal of Social Psychology asked 155 women aged 18 – 32 to view various combinations of adverts, some featuring luxury goods and others showing airbrushed models.
Of the 155, 44 were shown adverts featuring only ‘body perfect’ models but no material goods, 39 viewed adverts with no goods or models and a final group of 41 were shown adverts of both luxury goods and models.
After each group had viewed their adverts they were then asked to rate their body satisfaction. Interestingly the researchers found that it was the group who were shown the luxury goods adverts that felt the worst about their appearance.
Dr Eleni-Marina Ashikal a psychologist at the University of Sussex was head researcher on the project and has said that the aim of the study was to investigate the impact of consumer culture on women.
‘Out of all the groups, women who saw both the materialistic adverts and the body-perfect adverts felt much worse about their body that those that didn’t.’ She said.
She added that it was women who had high materialistic values who responded the most negatively to the images and she is now calling on advertising agencies and the media to consider image content before releasing adverts.
She said: ‘I think it is absolutely necessary that we think about what images are being put out there. The body image literature is substantial and research has shown that body dissatisfaction can lead to depression, extensive diet and exercise, the overuse of laxatives and potential eating disorders.’