Everything You Wanted To Know About TDP Media But Were Too Afraid To Ask: A study About TDP Media and Its Effects on the Public
 
Student Researchers

Nicole Siegel, Lindsey Steck, & Jessica Schleifstein (Undergraduate Students)
This paper is based on a project from an undergraduate Media Effects course.

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

Introduction

Thin-depicting and promoting (TDP) media is becoming more popular and teenagers are constantly being exposed to it. We wanted to see if different TDP media vehicles (TV, magazine and internet) are affecting college students in either their body satisfaction or perceived reality.

Research Questions

For college students, controlling for gender, what is the relationship between the amount of usage/kinds of media vehicles (TV, magazines, and Internet website) and Reality Perception and Body Dissatisfaction?

RQ1: For college students, controlling for media content, what is the relationship between media vehicles (magazines, TV, and internet) and body dissatisfaction effects?

RQ 2: For college students, controlling for their own level of body satisfaction, what is the relationship between amount of internet use and their perception of others’ body satisfaction?

RQ3: For college students, controlling for content media, what is the relationship between different media vehicles and perception of publicized topics?

Method

We conducted a survey which included 160 participants (36 males and 123 females). There were 31 questions which included questions about television, magazines and the internet as well as body satisfaction of themselves and others. It also included questions about topics that are portrayed in the media they consume as well as how publicized they think those topics are. Our Independent variables were the amount of TV/magazine/internet viewing and frequency and type of TV/magazine and internet viewing. Our dependent variables were their own body satisfaction, other people’s body satisfaction, and their reality perception. Several TV shows were combined into one measure: Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives, Entourage, Girls Next Door, America’s Next Top Model, Real World, Grey’s Anatomy and Nip/tuck. Likewise, several magazines were combined into one measure: US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Star, Instyle, Vogue, Allure, and Intouch. Finally, websites that were combined were Perezhilton, D-Listed, MTV, Style, Shopbop, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Youtube, Blogger and IMDB. We ran a regression analysis and a interaction analysis to come up with our results.

Results

In our results, we found that the TDP media vehicle you consume is not significant to your body satisfaction. When we ran a regression analysis between the combined TV shows/magazines and websites, to their body satisfaction, we found no correlation. Therefore, there is no significant relationship between TDP media and body dissatisfaction.

However, when we ran an interaction analysis comparing high and low internet users, high and low body satisfaction and others' (friends, classmates, parents, siblings and teachers) high and low body satisfaction, we did find a correlation. The mainstreaming effect took place when we looked at friends and classmates but not with parents, teachers and siblings. If you were a low internet user and have low body satisfaction, then you will also think your friends and classmates have low body satisfaction. If you are a low internet user and have high body satisfaction, then you will also think your friends and classmates have high body satisfaction. However, if you are a high internet user then you will think your friends and classmates have the same body satisfaction no matter what your body satisfaction is. This does not apply to parents, teachers or siblings.


                                                         internet time

Finally we found a correlation between TDP media and how publicized you think gossip topics are. If you view TDP media, then you will think that gossip topics are extremely publicized. However, if you do not view TDP media, then you will not think gossip is highly publicized.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we found that TDP media does not influence your own body satisfaction but it does when asking about your friends and classmates. The mainstreaming effect plays a role when asking about other people and TDP media. Also, uses and gratifications plays a role when asking about how publicized gossip topics are. If you view TDP media, then you will think gossip topics are highly publicized. This is because you choose what you’re watching based on what you enjoy. If you enjoy TDP media, then you are going to watch it and think what you are watching is important. Although we found no correlation between consumption of TDP media and body dissatisfaction, we believe this could have to do with social desirability (sensitive nature of questions dealing with body dissatisfaction).

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University