The effect of social media priming on attentional bias to body related words
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Previous research suggests that individuals diagnosed with clinical eating disorder exhibit attentional bias towards disorder relevant information. This phenomenon has also been found within non-clinical samples e.g. dieters, individuals with high body dissatisfaction and those with eating concerns however this research is lacking and often produces mixed results. Few studies have utilized priming techniques in this area which may be useful in activating dormant body schemas before cognitive testing. The aim of this study was to examine whether social media can cause attentional biases to body related words (fat, thin, attractive and unattractive words) in a non-clinical sample, after priming has occurred. The priming task involved participants watching a short screen recording of an Instagram feed, the recording contained typical fitspiration images. fitspiration has previously shown to cause body dissatisfaction therefore a healthy sample of young women may be primed to show attentional biases towards body related words. A total of 20 women between the ages 18-25 took part in this study, all of which completed a dot probe task and a priming task. A 2x2x4 mixed ANOVA revealed that there was a significant difference between attentional bias scores before and after priming, however there was no significant differences between the experimental or the control group. No significant differences were found between mean reaction times towards fat, thin, unattractive and attractive word groups. It was concluded that although attentional bias scores increased after priming this was likely due to confounding variables. Future research should address methodical issues within attentional bias research and attempt to study a wider range of groups.
B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology
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