Project Overview

Digital modification aiming to modify and enhance the appearance of images is a powerful tool and represents a common practice in the conventional mass media industry (fashion magazines, television, movies, and Internet) to make models appear thinner and more attractive. The widespread dissemination of these images that thus promote unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty has become a public health concern due to their impact of young women’s health. Indeed, a robust body of research has shown that prolonged exposure to unrealistic body images in the media may contribute significantly to thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction and most importantly, the development of eating disorders.

Despite the social pressure to improve the media environment, several initiatives and policies initiated by governments across different countries (e.g., Australia, the United Kingdom, and Israel, to cite a few) have failed to produce a positive impact. There is emerging evidence that the use of average-sized models in media images would be beneficial, as exposure to such models produces few or no adverse effects on body image or mood. In contrast, the use of labels indicating that images have not been digitally modified, which is a promising approach that would be attractive to corporations through providing their products with “added value”, has not been evaluated to date.

Therefore, the project aims to test in 3 different cultural backgrounds:

  1. The relationship between emotion dysregulation and body image;
  2. The relationship between self-report and psychophysiological measures;
  3. The impact of two strategies aiming to decrease the deleterious effects of media on body image.

The project CAPSULE (Cross-culturAl Physiological Study with UnreaListic imagE) has been initiated in July 2018 and it is funded by the BIAL Foundation, Grant Agreement no. 217/16 and coordinated by Prof. Patrícia Oliveira-Silva, from Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Porto.