Media Literacy Education Exposure related to Self-Esteem, Body Esteem, and Sociocultural Ideals in College Students and Graduates

Tammy Stargardt, Walden University


The prevalence of eating disorders (ED) in the United States has increased while the media consistently presents thinner representations of the body. Scholars have found media to negatively influence factors associated with the development of EDs. The purpose of this quantitative nonexperimental cross-sectional survey design study was to explore relationships between exposure levels to MLE and self-esteem, body esteem, and the internalization societal appearance ideals. Participants included undergraduate students or recent graduates majoring in either communications or an alternative major with comparatively less MLE curriculum. The Body Esteem Scale, Sociocultural Attitudes towards Appearance Questionnaire-3, and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale Surveys were administered online to examine the variance of 3 dependent variables (self-esteem, body esteem, internalization of societal appearance norms) with 2 independent variables (exposure levels to media literacy curriculum and gender), and a multivariate analysis of variance was used to analyze the data. Results displayed statistically significant differences between all 3 dependent variables with MLE levels. Research in MLE benefits both adults and children by way of providing the necessary tools, knowledge, and skills to be able to fully benefit from various media sources. MLE provides an opportunity to better understand media messages, as well as its influences therein, this way rather than being vulnerable and easily manipulated, one becomes a more knowledgeable and aware media consumer. The results to this study can promote, advocate, and bring awareness to media consumers and today's educators of the importance and need of MLE curriculum beginning at a young age.