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See detailAutomatic social comparison: Cognitive load facilitates an increase in negative thought accessibility after thin ideal exposure among women
Bocage-Barthélémy, Yvana; Chatard, Armand; Jaafari, Nematollah et al

in PLoS ONE (2018), 13(3), 0193200

Women are routinely exposed to images of extremely slim female bodies (the thin ideal) in advertisements, even if they do not necessarily pay much attention to these images. We hypothesized that ... [more ▼]

Women are routinely exposed to images of extremely slim female bodies (the thin ideal) in advertisements, even if they do not necessarily pay much attention to these images. We hypothesized that paradoxically, it is precisely in such conditions of low attention that the impact of the social comparison with the thin ideal might be the most pronounced. To test this prediction, one hundred and seventy-three young female participants were exposed to images of the thin ideal or of women’s fashion accessories. They were allocated to either a condition of high (memorizing 10 digits) or low cognitive load (memorizing 4 digits). The main dependent measure was implicit: mean recognition latency of negative words, relative to neutral words, as assessed by a lexical decision task. The results showed that thin-ideal exposure did not affect negative word accessibility under low cognitive load but that it increased it under high cognitive load. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that social comparison with the thin ideal is an automatic process, and contribute to explain why some strategies to prevent negative effects of thin-ideal exposure are inefficient. [less ▲]

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