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Understanding Adolescents Appearance-Related Interactions with Peers on Highly Visual Social Media Platforms

Paddock, Danielle ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1825-8731 (2022) Understanding Adolescents Appearance-Related Interactions with Peers on Highly Visual Social Media Platforms. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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Adolescents’ peer interactions play an important role in the development of personal attitudes, norms and beliefs surrounding appearance and contribute to body image concerns. Appearance-related interactions are abundant on social media, but research is limited. The aim of this thesis was to explore how adolescents understand and experience appearance-related interactions on social media in relation to body image concerns, peer relationships and selfdevelopment, and to explore the role of gender. Study 1 used focus groups to explore adolescents’ (Age M = 12.56; SD = 0.97; Girls = 33) shared understandings of a range of
appearance interactions on social media. In Study 2, thirty adolescents (Age M = 14.93; SD = 1.72; Girls = 21) participated in interviews involving the scroll-back technique to better understand their personal experiences of body talk on social media. Seventeen girls (Age M =
15.12; SD = 1.80) further agreed to share their social media data for content analysis.

Combined, the findings highlight the complexity of adolescents’ appearance interactions, which are transformed by the social media environment. Some interactions like
body talk are experienced more intensely and frequently compared to their offline counterparts. Positive appearance comments are the norm for girls and serve many functions including popularity marker, sign of affinity, and self-presentational strategy. Negative comments were only the norm for girls if self-directed; self-deprecating comments were used as a selfpresentational strategy to convey appearance modesty. Complimenting is less common for
boys as it is perceived as contrary to masculine gender norms. Instead, boys tend to engage in appearance-related banter, and this similarly acts as a marker of affiliation, signifier of boy identity and self-presentation strategy. Appearance commentary of all forms reinforced
appearance-related expectations for both boys and girls, and as such, contributed body image concerns. These findings have important implications for theory and intervention.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Unpublished
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8006

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