Biological Sciences

Second Major



Paiva, Andrea, L

Advisor Department





social media; body dissatisfaction; body image; eating disorders; age; self report survey


The digital age has resulted in major technological inventions leading to great advances; however there are also clear costs. Television allows identical picture images to be broadcasted into millions of homes, the internet is a gateway to seemingly limitless information, and the cell phone is the ultimate connection device. Each of these communication modalities have spread the thinness ideal that is prevalent in Western societies, with the Internet being ridden with pro-eating disorder websites, cell phones providing handheld excess to peer- comparison, and all mediums presenting images of the thin body as ideal. The prevalence of eating disorders is still substantial, with unprecedented growth in the last two decades with 30 million Americans currently affected. While more people may be struggling with an eating disorder or negative body image, funding for research remains low and treatment of eating disorders hardly improves.

This research project sought to explore relationships between social media exposure and levels of body dissatisfaction. Social media has now become part of daily life for many people including adolescents and young adults. The most popular social networks include Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, and they all may have an influence on the user’s body satisfaction. Studies have focused on the effect of mass media on a person; however information pertaining to the effects of social media is very limited.

The current study developed a survey which included measures from the Eating Disorder Inventory, the Body Image Assessment, and the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire, with adjustments to relate measures to social media. The results of the study will be presented and add to the literature regarding social media and body image by presenting correlations and relationships between social media exposure and all other variables. Results provide insight towards intervention and prevention methods as well as raise consciousness about social media use.

ProjectSummary.pdf (49 kB)
Project Summary