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Stuck in the Model Trap: The Effects of Beautiful Models in Ads on Female Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents

Mary C. Martin and James W. Gentry
Journal of Advertising
Vol. 26, No. 2 (Summer, 1997), pp. 19-34
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4189031
Page Count: 16
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Abstract

One of advertising's "unintended effects" is the impact highly attractive models may have on female preadolescents and adolescents. Using social comparison theory as a framework, the authors propose that young girls compare their physical attractiveness with that of advertising models and, subsequently, their self-perceptions and self-esteem may be affected, depending on the motive for social comparison. They report a study with a mixed-model design in which motive was manipulated. Girls in grades four, six, and eight participated. The results suggest that motive is important, as support was found for all hypotheses. However, the support was not consistent across all grades or for all dependent variables. The authors consider possible reasons for the inconsistency and discuss the implications of the findings for advertisers and educators.

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