Media seems to play the largest role in transmitting messages regarding societal standards of attractiveness; especially in reinforcing the thin ideal for females. There is strong evidence indicating that females who are more likely to make appearance comparisons with thin images in the media often experience negative outcomes. Research has shown that increased exposure to thin images in the media is associated with higher body dissatisfaction and eating disorder features. A form of media that has been given little research attention is reality television, specifically appearance-based reality television. The current study examined the effects of viewership of appearance-based reality television shows on body image and eating behaviors. Participants were 154 undergraduate females of ages 18-25 at two Southern California universities. Results indicated that although participants reported lower levels of viewership of cosmetic surgery shows and fashion, style, and self-improvement makeover shows, a small positive relationship was found between viewership of fashion, style, self-improvement shows and thin ideal internalization. However, no relationships were found for either type of reality show and body dissatisfaction. There were significant relationships between viewership of cosmetic surgery reality shows and several features of eating disorders, including restrictive dieting, eating concerns, weight concerns, and shape concerns. Furthermore, social appearance comparisons, thin ideal internalization, and body dissatisfaction were significant predictors of appearance comparisons with reality television. These findings highlight the need to further examine the relationships found between viewership of appearance-based reality television shows, body image, and eating behaviors. It is likely the impact of such media depends on the occurrence of specific cognitive processes, such as appearance comparisons and thin ideal internalization, which can be targeted in future intervention.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Herbozo, Sylvia

Second Advisor

Arechiga, Adam L.

Third Advisor

Betancourt, Hector

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Body Image - Psychological aspects; Self-perception - Psychological aspects; Self-perception - Social Aspects; Reality Television programs; Social perception

Subject - Local

Media influence; Societal standards of attractiveness; Thin Ideal Internalization; Body Dissatisfaction; Appearance Comparisons



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives