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Adolescents report television characters do not influence their self‐perceptions of body image, weight, clothing choices or food habits

Donna Winham (Department of Nutrition, Arizona State University, Mesa, Arizona, USA.)
Jeffrey S. Hampl (Department of Nutrition, Arizona State University, Mesa, Arizona, USA.)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 13 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

Social cognitive theory (SCT) suggests that the observation of role models prompts the formation of beliefs that will govern future behaviors. The paper's objective is to explore the perceived influence of television media on feelings about eating habits, body image, clothing styles, and physical attractiveness attributes by high schools students in terms of SCT.

Design/methodology/approach

Data on attitudes and perceptions were collected using an online survey of a convenience sample of high school students (n=467) to determine influence of television media characters on behaviors.

Findings

The results of this survey suggest that high school students do not indiscriminately model behaviors depicted by television programs, but may selectively incorporate some views that fit with their reality such as the importance of attractiveness in romantic partners, but not influences of clothing styles or eating habits.

Research limitations/implications

Recognition of the fictional quality of television characters does not refute that they have influence on the high school respondents, but it does suggest some degree of cognitive recognition about the lack of reality of television characters. The convenience sample of adolescents may be more media‐savvy than others because of associations with high‐school journalism programs.

Originality/value

High school students do not indiscriminately model behaviors depicted by television programs, but may selectively incorporate some views that fit with their reality in accordance with SCT.

Keywords

Citation

Winham, D. and Hampl, J.S. (2008), "Adolescents report television characters do not influence their self‐perceptions of body image, weight, clothing choices or food habits", Young Consumers, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 121-130. https://doi.org/10.1108/17473610810879693

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited