Date of Conferral
Repeated exposure to media images that portray women as sex objects can have negative long-term effects on self-esteem beginning in preadolescence. Negative effects include decreased feelings of competence, increased focus on appearance, increased body dissatisfaction, and limited achievement in domains not related to appearance. There is a gap in the literature examining if media literacy training can mitigate the negative effects of exposure to sexualized media content. Festinger's social comparison theory and Vygotsky's theory of cognitive development provided the framework for this study. A quasi-experimental pre-post-test design was used to examine the interaction of media literacy training and time of measurement, on self-esteem and body-satisfaction in preadolescent girls. Archival data from 73 5th grade girls were obtained from a media literacy group with the addition of data from 14 5th grade girls collected to form a non-media literacy comparison group to control for confounding variables and bias. Two separate 2-way, mixed-model, factorial ANOVAs were conducted. The analyses failed to show a significant interaction between literacy group and time of measurement on self-esteem and/or body-satisfaction. However, the potential effectiveness of media literacy skills in neutralizing the negative impact of sexualized media imagery on preadolescent girls' self-esteem and body-satisfaction was observed in the between-group analyses. Positive social change may occur when society continues to identify and incorporate positive self-esteem influences and media literacy skills into the lives of preadolescent girls as to mitigate negative long-term effects of media sexualization.