The effects of Instagram fitspiration imagery on unhealthy eating behavior, body dissatisfaction and self-esteem
Quek, Zhuo En
Date of Issue2018-04-16
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Fitspiration is a popular diet and fitness trend on Instagram that aims to motivate viewers to lead healthier lifestyles. Therefore, this study experimentally examined fitspiration photos as health goal primes on young adults’ actual eating behaviors. It was hypothesized that exposure to fitspiration photos would reduce unhealthy snacking. Additionally, the potential impacts of fitspiration images on body dissatisfaction and self-esteem were investigated upon. Finally, due to a possibility that interplay between fitspiration photos and self-image may provide an alternative mechanism of upward social comparisons to motivate individuals to reduce snacking, body dissatisfaction and self-esteem were tested as moderators for the effect of image type on snacking. Undergraduate students (N = 103) aged 18-29 years (M = 22.8, SD = 1.92) were randomly assigned to either view diet fitspiration images, exercise fitspiration images or control images. Results showed that participants in both fitspiration conditions did not consume lesser snacks compared to the control condition. Participants’ body dissatisfaction and self-esteem were also unaffected by fitspiration images. Additionally, body dissatisfaction failed to moderate the effect of image type on snacking behavior. However, self-esteem predicted snacking for participants in both fitspiration conditions. More specifically, participants with lower self-esteem ate lesser snacks in both fitspiration conditions compared to the control condition. Findings suggest that individuals with low self-esteem tend to engage in negative upward social comparisons with healthier individuals in fitspiration images, and therefore compensated perceived health differences by reducing caloric intake. Implications for fitspiration as an intervention for unhealthy eating habits are discussed herein.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University