This study examines how advertisements containing thin or heavy models influence the self‐esteem of overweight, normal, and underweight consumers. Previous research has mainly examined the influences of variations of the comparison standard on self‐evaluative outcomes, whereas we examine how the relative position of the self on the comparison dimension may moderate these effects. Three studies manipulated the size (thin vs. heavy) and extremity of the size (moderate vs. extreme) of advertising models and exposed these images to individuals differing in Body Mass Index (BMI) levels. Our findings indicate that social comparison processes and subsequent self‐evaluative and behavioral outcomes are different for individuals differing in their BMI.

ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal of Consumer Research
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Smeesters, D., & Mussweiler, T. (2010). The Effects of Thin and Heavy Media Images on Overweight and Underweight Consumers: Social Comparison Processes and Behavioral Implications. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(6), 930–949. doi:10.1086/648688