Effectiveness of health messages to change women's thin-ideal and unhealthy weight control intentions: Connecting social norms and social networks approaches
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The thin-ideal is becoming increasingly dominant among women in Eastern Asian countries such as China and South Korea. The internalization of the thin-ideal leads to body image disturbance and unhealthy weight-control behaviors. Based on the social networks and social norms approaches, this study tests the effectiveness of normative messages in reducing women's internationalization of the thin-ideal and weight-control intentions through an experiment among female college students in China. It investigates how the following three factors: content of normative message (psychoeducational or feminist), source of the message (strong ties or weak ties), and characteristics of the recipients (self-weight evaluations) influence women's body image and weight-control intentions. Results of this study suggest that normative messages with a psychoeducational approach delivered through strong ties are more effective in decreasing women's internalization of the thin-ideal than the same message delivered through weak ties. In contrast, normative messages with a feminist approach delivered through weak ties are more effective in reducing women's internalization of the thin-ideal and unhealthy weight-control intentions than the same messages delivered through strong ties. There is an interaction effect between message content and recipients' self-weight evaluation. The theoretical and practical implications of this study are discussed. © 2013 Copyright AMIC/SCI-NTU.
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