Marketers frequently use advertisements featuring thin models to promote the goal of self-improvement to consumers. However, many of these appeals lead to detrimental effects on the self-perceptions of the females who view them. This paper integrates components of goal-striving theory and social comparison theory to explain consumer response to these advertisements and investigates how goal attainability may mitigate the negative effects of these ads. Additionally, this work investigates how a promotion-focus goal orientation moderates the effects of the goal-striving process and provides evidence of the mediating effects of shame. Finally, this work addresses a gap in the literature by examining how the interplay of model size and goal attainability impacts male consumers’ self-perceptions. Study 1 reveals that high levels of perceived goal attainability mitigate the negative effects of exposure to thin models on self-perceptions for females. Study 2 demonstrates that a high promotion-focus goal orientation can lead to more favorable self-perceptions for female participants exposed to a thin model with attainable goals, but it does not isolate participants from feelings of shame, which mediates the effects of goal attainability on self-perceptions. Study 3 reveals similar findings for male consumers, but notably finds that shame does not play a significant role in understanding the comparison process for male consumers, suggesting key differences in the comparison processes between sexes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology