--Original published at Ariana's Blog
Is using Facebook affecting how you see yourself? The short answer is yes. Many people today have a Facebook account and spend countless hours scrolling through their feed. Young teens and even adults now post many selfies either as a profile picture or just as a post. This raises the question if it affects how people view their body or face. To answer this question, we turn to the results of a recent study on this issue.
Researchers Jasmine Fardouly, Phillippa Diedrichs, and Emma Halliwell hypothesized that Facebook increases body dissatisfaction, negative mood, and weight discrepancy. In their study they tested 2 different impacts—increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction. There had been correlational studies that found Facebook did increase body concerns; however, the researchers wanted to conduct their own experimental study. 112 voluntary participants were selected based on the criteria that they were female between seventeen and twenty-five years old. The researchers believed that this was an appropriate sample because they were testing the effect of Facebook on only women. They all completed a pre-exposure state measure of mood and body dissatisfaction. The participants were randomly assigned to 3 different groups. They either scrolled through Facebook, a fashion magazine website, or an appearance neutral website. All websites were checked to make sure each was equal in appeal and comparison opportunity.
Each participant was told to browse the feed of the assigned website for ten minutes a day for a week. After the week, the women were asked to rate their mood on a scale of 1-100 and to rate how different they would like their appearance to be on a scale of 1-5; one being a little different and five being extremely different. Responses were categorized into 3 groups: weight, body, or facial discrepancies.
The results were unexpected. Women who browsed Facebook for a short time reported being in a more negative mood and had increased facial dissatisfaction. It turns out that women compare their facial features instead of body features. This could be due to the type of posts that are uploaded—up-close selfies! There needs to be further experimental research on this issue to determine whether Facebook is the cause of facial and body dissatisfaction as well as mood.
Through this experiment the researchers hope to encourage women to follow positive, inspirational accounts to decrease body image concerns. They want to bring attention to the impact that Facebook may have on a person’s view of themselves.
This project has made me realize that not everything we see on the news or in articles is accurate and further reading should be done in order to find the truth. To make sure that my readers knew the importance of the study, I explained the issue and gave a bit of background information on previous correlational studies. In this article, I chose to include important information so that the audience was able to answer each of the five critical questions. This is significant because it makes the article credible and reliable. I also chose to state that additional research is required to verify the article’s findings so that the audience is aware that there may be errors in the study. I chose to leave out information that I didn’t believe was necessary and was too scientifically based, such as the scientific terms for the specific scales used to operationalize their variables, so that the article was easy to read and understand.
The original article had a bit of important information that was also put in my article; however, it left out some critical information that it should have contained. The summary I wrote is more fact based and portrays the relevant points of the research instead of giving facts about Facebook to appeal to the audience. I recognize that the data may have made my summary less compelling to read, but I felt it was critical information that needed to be included. The original article failed to present the information needed to answer any of the five critical questions, such as how they selected participants and how they operationalized their variables etc., so I made sure to clearly state the information needed in my summary.
I understand that journalists writing pop culture articles have word limits, but I also noticed that they use that space to appeal to the audience instead of giving the facts that would make their article credible and important. It is important for journalists to answer the five critical questions of the scientific study, so the audience can determine its reliability. I also learned that being a journalist of a psychological study comes with the responsibility of interpreting the research so that the audience is able to understand the outcomes. It is difficult to write an article that appeals to a large group of people while simultaneously containing enough factual evidence, especially with the regulations placed upon journalists.