Body image and the advertising process: Dynamics of the body imaging process and its impacts on how individuals process advertising messages

Date of Completion

January 2006


Business Administration, Marketing|Psychology, Cognitive|Mass Communications




This study investigates (1) the specific motivations of social comparison, (2) the specific dynamics of body image process and its complex nature, (3) the impact of product type and body copy characteristics on message process of body-improving product ads, and (4) the relationship between the body image process and advertising message process. ^ The target population of the study is college-aged adults. The path modeling is the analysis tool used, and 2 x 2 (product type: exercise equipment vs. diet pills, and body copy details: detailed vs. vague copy) experimental design is utilized with total N = 665 from University of Connecticut, Wake Forest, and Emerson College. ^ From the study, the motivations of social comparison are not found to be processed at the same level independently. Rather, they are functioning at different levels by integrated to each other. Also, the body image process is not simple process composed of several few key variables. Rather, it is a very complex and dynamic process. The consumer perceptions of product type itself used in the ad has more impact on ad believability, which has the strongest impact on the purchase intention. Lastly, strong gender effect is also found in both body image process and advertising message process. ^