Social media use and body dissatisfaction in adolescents: the moderating role of thin-and muscular-ideal internalisation

Vuong, An T, Jarman, Hannah K ORCID: 0000-0001-8225-4511, Doley, Joanna ORCID: 0000-0002-8193-1223 and McLean, Sian ORCID: 0000-0002-4273-2037 (2021) Social media use and body dissatisfaction in adolescents: the moderating role of thin-and muscular-ideal internalisation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (24). ISSN 1661-7827


Internalisation of appearance ideals moderates the relationship between exposure to media images and body dissatisfaction. To date, the role of thin-and muscular-ideal internalisation in the context of social media remains under explored, particularly for boys. As such, we aimed to explore how social media use (Instagram and Snapchat) was related to body dissatisfaction, and whether thin-and muscular-ideal internalisation would moderate this relationship in a sample of 1153 adolescent boys and girls (55.42% males; Mage = 13.71, SD = 1.14). As hypothesised, social media use, and thin-and muscular ideal internalisation were positively correlated with body dissatisfaction in both genders. In moderation analyses, thin-ideal internalisation emerged as the only variable that had a significant effect on body dissatisfaction in both genders. Additionally, the influence of social media use on body dissatisfaction was moderated by muscular-ideal internalisation in boys, whereby for boys with high muscular-ideal internalisation, greater social media use was associated with greater body dissatisfaction. The two-way (muscular x thin-ideal internalisation) and three-way interaction (social media use x thin-ideal internalisation x muscular-ideal internalisation) effects on body dissatisfaction were non-significant. These findings emphasise the importance of considering the sociocultural environment (i.e., new media influences) as frameworks for understanding body dissatisfaction and suggest targeting of internalisation of appearance ideals in body dissatisfaction prevention programs.

Dimensions Badge

Altmetric Badge

Item type Article
DOI 10.3390/ijerph182413222
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords social media, body image, body appearance ideals, adolescent mental health
Citations in Scopus 15 - View on Scopus
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login