Thesis: Study Between Adolescence and the Medias Effect on Body Image

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¶ … Media Exposure on Adolescent Body Image

Background and History of the Study of Human Psychological Development

During the 20th century, psychology evolved into a field in which different theorists introduced several conceptual approaches to understanding the development of personality in the individual. Erickson conceived of personal psychological development as largely dependent on issues of internalized identity and identity confusion attributable to environmental influences. Piaget focused more on the transition from the preoperational stages of moral thought and responsibility to the formal operation stage that characterized normal adult psychological perspectives. Freud introduced an entirely different conceptual model that viewed the evolution of personality as primarily attributable to foundational influences and to the specific frustrations and conflicts repressed into the subconscious very early in life and continually expressed indirectly thereafter.

Similarly, much of 20th century psychological thought pertained to identifying the predominant source of developmental influence and the distinction among biological processes and contributing factors, cognitive learning through exposure to environmental factors, and socio-emotional factors dependent on the perceptions of the individual in relation to the thoughts and opinions of others. Previously, human psychology had been regarded as primarily (even exclusively) a function of one set of factors or of another set of factors.

Only as psychologists perfected methods of testing various elements of the different psychological approaches that had been suggested as the source of human psychological development before the middle of the 20th century did mainstream modern psychological theorists come to the consensus that all of the major school of thought described aspects of a single topic that was simply much more broad than previously assumed. Today, contemporary psychologists generally regard the psychological development of human beings to be the result of myriad individual factors that include biological tendencies, the environmental influence of society and culture, and the psychodynamic issues of suppressed emotions and conflicts as first described by Freud. The contemporary model of human psychological development recognizes the individual contributions of the different conceptual approaches as each representing part of the puzzle rather than a solitary explanation to the exclusion of other approaches.

Body Image and Self-Perception

One component of psychological self-image relates to the individual's perceptions and beliefs about his or her physical attractiveness to others (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008). Certainly, there are many aspects of physical attraction that are universal among all known human societies that suggest very strongly a common evolutionary origin. Examples include the general preference for physiological symmetry and obvious physical signs of masculinity and strength in males and of femininity and reproductive health in females (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008).

However, to a large degree, measures of physical attractiveness are also functions of internalizing the arbitrary standards and criteria that come to denote beauty within a given culture or society (Henslin, 2002; Macionis, 2003). Because at least part of the direction and shape of individual self-perception is a function of self-perceptions about learned standards of attractiveness, greater exposure to images and representations that reinforce societal concepts and definitions about physical attractiveness would seem naturally to be associated with greater dependence of self-image (at least in relation to physical… [END OF PREVIEW]

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