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Social Comparison and the Idealized Images of Advertising

Marsha L. Richins
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/209242 71-83 First published online: 1 June 1991

Abstract

This article reviews theories that might explain how advertising causes dissatisfaction with the self. It is hypothesized that consumers compare themselves with idealized advertising images. Exposure to such images may change consumers' comparison standards for what they desire or lower perceptions of their own performance on relevant dimensions; the result is lowered satisfaction. Exploratory and experimental research examined these hypotheses in the context of idealized images of physical attractiveness in ads targeted at young women. Evidence for comparison was found. Results suggest that idealized images raised comparison standards for attractiveness and lowered satisfaction with one's own attractiveness.