Helga Dittmar

Helga Dittmar
University of Sussex · School of Psychology

Professor

About

85
Publications
207,149
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
9,351
Citations

Publications

Publications (85)
Article
Full-text available
Recent research determined that buying experiences, rather than material items, leads to higher levels of well-being, perhaps because experiences are more connected to the sense of self. However, little is known about which of the identity-related functions (IRFs) that a purchase can serve – such as gaining autonomy and control (effectiveness), acq...
Article
Researchers have observed variation in levels of body image disturbance and eating pathology among women from different Western countries. Examination of cross-cultural differences in the established risk factors (i.e., thin-ideal internalization, muscular-ideal internalization, and appearance pressures from family, peers, and media) for negative o...
Article
Full-text available
Appearance goals for exercise are consistently associated with negative body image, but research has yet to consider the processes that link these two variables. Self-determination theory offers one such process: introjected (guilt-based) regulation of exercise behavior. Study 1 investigated these relationships within a cross-sectional sample of fe...
Article
Full-text available
International concern has been expressed about advertising for cosmetic surgery (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons [BAAPS], 2005, 2008). A recent study showed that exposure to such advertising resulted in a more negative body image and attitudes toward surgery among women living in the UK (Ashikali, Dittmar, & Ayers, 2015). This stu...
Article
Full-text available
Cosmetic surgery is increasingly common, and the way it is advertised has raised concern (American Society of Plastic Surgeons [ASPS], 2004; British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons [BAAPS], 2008). Two experimental, between-participants studies examined the impact of cosmetic surgery advertising on body image and attitudes toward surgery....
Article
Full-text available
The Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire-3 (SATAQ-3) and its earlier versions are measures designed to assess societal and interpersonal aspects of appearance ideals. Correlational, structural equation modeling, and prospective studies of the SATAQ-3 have shown consistent and significant associations with measures of body image...
Article
Full-text available
This meta-analysis investigates the relationship between individuals' materialistic orientation and their personal well-being. Theoretical approaches in psychology agree that prioritizing money and associated aims is negatively associated with individuals' well-being but differ in their implications for whether this is invariably the case. To addre...
Article
Internalising the consumer culture ideals of materialism and appearance has been shown to be negatively related to adults’ well-being. Similarly, adults who strive towards these ideals for extrinsic reasons, such as to improve their image or status, have been shown to have lower levels of well-being than those who strive towards them for intrinsic...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents a systematic attempt to examine the associations of materialism with learning in 9- to 11-year-old children in 2 countries of similar economic development but different cultural heritage. Using cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental methods, we test a theoretically driven model of associations among materialism, learn...
Article
Full-text available
A growing body of evidence shows that materialistic values are linked to lower well-being. Self-determination theory offers an explanation through the low fulfilment of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. However, recent research suggests that frustration of these psychological needs may also play an additional...
Article
Cosmetic surgery media coverage has become common in recent years, with surgery featuring in advertising and reality TV. Concerns have been expressed by the American and British Associations for Plastic Surgery about the nature of this coverage, particularly with respect to the impact on adolescents (ASPS, 2004; BAAPS, 2004). This study was the fir...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined adolescent girls' views of cosmetic surgery. Seven focus groups were run with girls aged 15-18 years (N = 27). Participants read case studies of women having cosmetic surgery, followed by discussion and exploration of their views. Thematic analysis identified four themes: (1) dissatisfaction with appearance, (2) acceptability of...
Article
Few studies have examined how changes in materialism relate to changes in well-being; fewer have experimentally manipulated materialism to change well-being. Studies 1, 2, and 3 examined how changes in materialistic aspirations related to changes in well-being, using varying time frames (12 years, 2 years, and 6 months), samples (US young adults an...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a systematic attempt to examine the associations of materialism with learning in 9- to 11-year old children in two countries of similar economic development, but different cultural heritage. Using cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental methods, we test a theoretically driven model of associations among materialism, lear...
Article
This article addresses the perfect body ideals embodied by dolls and action figures marketed at children and adolescents, and the effect these toys can have on body image. Dolls and action figures provide tangible images of the body that can be internalized as part of children’s and adolescents’ developing sense of identity and body image. The arti...
Article
Full-text available
a b s t r a c t In Iceland, levels of debt had risen to an unprecedented extreme in the years prior to the country's economic collapse in October 2008. This rise occurred in the context of a con-sumer culture highlighting supposed psychological benefits of consumer goods. This paper reports findings from two studies, conducted during an economic bo...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Internalization of appearance ideals is considered a causal risk factor for body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance. The Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire-3 (SATAQ-3) is a widely-used and well validated measure of appearance ideals internalization. This scale was recently revised to 1) provide for an assessment of a muscu...
Article
Full-text available
Is materialism systematically related to teenagers' learning motivation as well as actual learning outcomes? The reported research tested a theoretical model of associations among materialism, achievement goals, and exam performance among teenagers. Study 1 tested the theoretical model in 4 groups of teenagers drawn from 2 different educational sta...
Article
The article focuses on the importance of including academic evidence from the world of social psychology in policymaking around some key contemporary public issues, from health and wellbeing to social cohesion and resilience. When academic advice is sought on policy development, it is usually economists who receive an especially attentive hearing f...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research on media exposure and body image focuses on TV and magazines, rather than the under researched types of media heavily consumed by adolescents, such as music videos. The present research, involving 199 adolescent girls (aged 14–16) from South-East England, examines girls’ media consumption (types and genres) and identification with...
Article
This study explores the types of personal possessions women and men consider important and the meanings they attach to them. Twenty female and 20 male subjects listed their five most treasured possessions and then described in an open-ended format the reasons why they considered each of these important. The data, which were analysed quantitatively...
Article
Full-text available
Consumer culture is characterized by two prominent ideals: the 'body perfect' and the material 'good life'. Although the impact of these ideals has been investigated in separate research literatures, no previous research has examined whether materialism is linked to women's responses to thin-ideal media. Data from several studies confirm that the i...
Article
Full-text available
A growing body of evidence shows that a materialistic value orientation is linked to lower well-being (Dittmar 2008; Kasser & Kanner, 2004), but we know little about factors that influence this association, or linked behavioural tendencies, particularly in developing countries, such as India. Extending our previous research (Dittmar 2005a, b; Dittm...
Chapter
One increasingly powerful context in which individuals construct and express their identities is the material and consumer culture we live in. Having the ‘right’ material goods has become vital to many, not so much because of these goods themselves, but because of hoped-for psychological benefits, such as moving closer to an ideal identity, creatin...
Article
This paper proposes a new model of consumer impulsivity, using type of good, a person's endorsement of materialistic values, and identity deficits as predictors. Traditional decision making and psychological accounts see impulsive behaviour as a general overweighing of short-term gratification (I want that dress now) relative to longer-term concern...
Article
Sociocultural theory attributes the high levels of body image concerns and disordered eating in Western women to the promotion of an unrealistically thin body ideal. This study investigated body dissatisfaction, restrained eating, and attitudes toward appearance in visually impaired and sighted women. There were 21 congenitally blind, 11 blinded la...
Article
Introduction Affluenza, aspendicitis, luxury fever - these often-used, tongue-in-cheek disease names for our modern American plague of materialism and overconsumption boldly illustrate the fact that compulsive buying is trivialized by our culture. Amid this tendency to make light of the problem, a serious discussion of its social factors and social...
Article
Full-text available
There is consistent evidence for a moderate negative association between the pur-suit of financial goals and subjective well-being (SWB; cf. Dittmar, 2008; Kasser & Kanner, 2004). However, there is some evidence to suggest that this negative link may hold only with respect to particular motives for wanting money (Shel-don, Ryan, Deci, & Kasser, 200...
Article
Body image has emerged as a core aspect of mental and physical well-being. Informed by sociocultural theory, a rapidly growing body of research addresses the question of whether body perfect ideals in the mass media are a core risk factor for negative body image, particularly in women. This work has moved beyond assessments of whether or not negati...
Article
Previous experimental research demonstrates that exposure to ultra-thin media models has negative effects on many women's body image, but neglects underlying psychological processes. We develop and test a moderated mediation model with internalization of the thin beauty ideal as moderator, and activation of weight-related self-discrepancies as medi...
Article
Associations between materialism and peer relations are likely to exist in elementary school children but have not been studied previously. The first two studies introduce a new Perceived Peer Group Pressures (PPGP) Scale suitable for this age group, demonstrating that perceived pressure regarding peer culture (norms for behavioral, attitudinal, an...
Article
This study examines the effects of exposure to the muscular male body ideal on body-focused negative affect among male gym users and non-exercisers. As hypothesized, the impact of media exposure depended on men's exercise status. Non-exercisers (n = 58) reported greater body-focused negative affect after exposure to images of muscular male models t...
Article
Full-text available
Music videos are a particularly influential, new form of mass media for adolescents, which include the depiction of scantily clad female models whose bodies epitomise the ultra-thin sociocultural ideal for young women. The present study is the first exposure experiment that examines the impact of thin models in music videos on the body dissatisfact...
Article
Compulsive buying of consumer goods increasingly occurs in conventional shops and stores, but has also started to emerge when people buy online. Extending previous research (e.g., Dittmar, 2005a, b), a model of vulnerability factors is proposed whereby the endorsement of materialistic values predicts individuals' seeking to enhance their emotions a...
Book
Advertising, materialism and consumption are central aspects of contemporary Western culture. We are bombarded with idealised images of the perfect body, desirable consumer goods, and affluent lifestyles, yet psychology is only just beginning to take account of the profound influence these consumer culture ideals have on individuals' sense of ident...
Article
Reports an error in "Does Barbie make girls want to be thin? The effect of experimental exposure to images of dolls on the body image of 5- to 8-year-old girls" by Helga Dittmar, Emma Halliwell and Suzanne Ive (Developmental Psychology, 2006 Mar, Vol 42[2], 283-292). A substantive error occurs in the Body shape dissatisfaction section on page 287....
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the associations between appearance-related, actual-ideal self-discrepancies--from both own and romantic partner's standpoints--and negative affect, body satisfaction, and eating behavior. It extends previous research through studying both genders and the romantic partner standpoint, but its main novel contribution is a systemat...
Article
Full-text available
The ubiquitous Barbie doll was examined in the present study as a possible cause for young girls' body dissatisfaction. A total of 162 girls, from age 5 to age 8, were exposed to images of either Barbie dolls, Emme dolls (U.S. size 16), or no dolls (baseline control) and then completed assessments of body image. Girls exposed to Barbie reported low...
Article
This special issue highlights the growing importance of research on body image in social and clinical psychology. Its prominence is increasing, its significance for both women's and men's psychological functioning is being recognised, and it is becoming an area of theoretical and empirical interest in its own right. Sociocultural theory postulates...
Article
This study extends previous demonstrations that thin media models have a negative impact on young women's body image by examining how this effect occurs. In addition to thin-ideal internalization, shown to moderate this impact. (Dittmar & Howard, 2004; Halliwell & Dittmar, 2004a), it investigates two further factors not previously explored together...
Article
Full-text available
Compulsive buying is an understudied, but growing, dysfunctional consumer behaviour with harmful psychological and financial consequences. Clinical perspectives treat it as a psychiatric disorder, whereas recent proposals emphasize the increasing endorsement of materialistic values as a cause of uncontrolled buying (e.g. Dittmar, 2004b; Kasser & Ka...
Article
Full-text available
In Western cultures, girls' self-esteem declines substantially during middle adolescence, with changes in body image proposed as a possible explanation. Body image develops in the context of sociocultural factors, such as unrealistic media images of female beauty. In a study of 136 U.K. girls aged 11–16, experimental exposure to either ultra-thin o...
Article
This study investigates the effect of social comparisons with media models on women's body image based on either self-evaluation or self-improvement motives. Ninety-eight women, for whom appearance was a relevant comparison dimension, viewed advertisements that did, or did not, feature idealised models, after being prompted to engage in self-evalua...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research demonstrates that exposure to ultra-thin media models leads to increased body image concerns amongst women (Groesz, Levine, & Murnen, 2002). There is emerging evidence that attractive, average-size models do not have this negative effect and can be effective in advertising (e.g. Halliwell & Dittmar, 2004). The present study invest...
Article
Compulsive buying is a widespread dysfunctional consumer behavior that is still not well understood, and existing clinical conceptualizations view it as a manifestation of other underlying psychiatric disorders. This article intends to improve understanding through developing and testing a new perspective on compulsive buying as identity-seeking be...
Article
Exposure to thin media models has a negative effect on women's body image, and the current study extends previous research by examining the relative impact and interrelation of two moderators: (a) individual differences in women's internalization of the thin ideal, and (b) tendency to make social comparisons with media models. Body-focused anxiety...
Article
Previous experimental research indicates that the use of average-size women models in advertising prevents the well-documented negative effect of thin models on women's body image, while such adverts are perceived as equally effective (Halliwell & Dittmar, 2004). The current study extends this work by: (a) seeking to replicate the finding of no dif...
Article
Two studies are reported that examine gender differences in attitudes toward conventional buying and on-line buying. Thematic analysis of open-ended accounts (n=113) in Study 1 provides a rich, qualitative map of buying attitude dimensions that are important to young women and men. Study 2 is a quantitative survey (n=240) of functional, emotional–s...
Article
Full-text available
An increasing number of studies shows that exposure to thin ideal bodies in the me- dia has negative effects on young women's body images, at least in the short-term. However, this research has (a) consistently confounded the effects of thinness and attractiveness, and (b) not investigated the potential use of alternative images in ad- vertising th...
Article
In-depth interviews were conducted with 42 women and men (aged 22–62 years) to explore their relationships with their bodies. The particular focus was age-related changes in body image and attitudes toward the body aging, an area that has received little research attention to date. Thematic analysis revealed distinctive gender differences. Men comm...
Article
An in-depth thematic analysis is presented of 32 interviews, which examined commonsense definitions of impulsive and planned buying, characteristics of typical impulse buy episodes, motivations for impulsive buying, issues of self-image and self-presentation, and regret. Ten interviews each were conducted with “ordinary” men and women consumers, an...
Article
Full-text available
Research on body image has neglected adolescents' ideals beyond thinness, particularly those of adolescent boys. Two studies are reported which examine a range of qualities in order to capture English adolescents' images of ideal bodies for same- and other-gender individuals. Study 1 used a qualitative approach, where 58 pupils aged 12–16 years dis...
Article
The paper presents the results of a survey of practices and change in respect of teaching and learning politics in UK universities for the period 1991/92–1994/95. It begins by contextualizing the survey; summarizing changes that occurred in higher education in the UK in the early 1990s and reviewing key strands in contemporary British literature on...
Chapter
Interlinked social and economic changes in Britain, particularly over the last two decades, have changed the climate in which individuals make consumer choices. Higher disposable incomes, coupled with an easier availability of consumer credit, mean wider choices for a greater number of individuals. An important theme of the ‘Economic Beliefs and Be...
Article
In order to stress the need for further systematic research on the relationship between the media and eating disorders, the present study investigates young women's responses to diverse consumer advertisements. Female undergraduates with varying levels of self-reported eating problems (assessed by EAT) were shown different types of food and non-foo...
Article
Current theories in economics, marketing, and psychology fail to explain underlying reasons for impulse buying and, crucially, why certain goods (e.g., clothes) are bought impulsively more than others (e.g., basic kitchen equipment). We propose and examine a social psychological model, which predicts that people impulse buy to acquire material symb...
Article
The exploratory study with homeless women presented in this paper aims to highlight two shortcomings in the current literature on homelessness, which accompany the predominant conceptualisation of ‘home’ as a place of safety and security, and homelessness as a primarily structural issue characterised by ‘residential instability’. The first is the p...
Article
We present a new model of impulse buying, based on a social constructionist theory, which addresses some of the short-comings of previous models from economics, consumer behaviour, and psychology. Our model predicts that products are impulsively bought to reflect self-identity. Thus gender, as a major social category, should influence both the prod...
Article
This study examines the social psychological functions clothes fulfil for young women and men, and the role that these perceived functions play for their (dis)satisfaction with their clothing generally. Sixty female and sixty male British students indicated why an item of clothing they particularly valued was important to them, including perceived...
Article
Given that material possessions can serve as symbolic markers of group membership, the present study investigates the existence and extent of consensual stereotypes about different socio-economic groups in Britain in terms of material objects. In order to examine whether such descriptions can be regarded as material stereotypes, the five possession...
Article
This study addresses the neglected link between materialism and person perception. It extends recent research into the influence of material possessions on first impressions by investigating how materialism (as a set of socio-cultural representations and as an individual value orientation) affects the way in which adolescents from different social...
Article
Group-serving biases in evaluating and explaining harmful behavior were investigated. Members of the Italian Communist party judged and explained an in-group or an out-group actor's harmful behavior toward an in-group or an out-group victim. The results support the notion of an in-group bias: Out-group actors were perceived as more aggressive and i...
Article
Full-text available
Lerner (1977, 1980) located the origins of the belief in a just world (BJW) in both individual motivational needs and social learning. To address the lack of subsequent research or discussion on possible social origins of the BJW, this paper investigates the social meaning of the BJW in the context of sociopolitical ideology. 173 participants, who...
Article
Explored the significance of material possessions and wealth when people form 1st impressions of others' identities. Two theoretical perspectives suggest different kinds of social information respondents may draw on when making inferences about a person in a material context: The intergroup relations approach focuses on similarity in socioeconomic...
Article
Explores the meanings women and men from different social-material strata in the UK attach to their personal possessions. 16 female and 20 male business commuters and 24 female and 26 male unemployed Ss listed their 5 most treasured possessions and wrote open-ended statements concerning the reasons why they considered each important. Men were mainl...
Article
Two studies examined the impact of material wealth on perceived identity. 240 undergraduates in the UK and Italy evaluated a description of a target person in terms of 26 adjectives/short statements and answered questions about their belief in the impressionability of themselves and others. For British Ss, symbolic identity was strongly affected by...
Article
Research and treatment approaches to anorexia nervosa are primarily based on behaviourist psychology. This review summarizes some attempts to understand the causes and consequent treatments of the condition from the viewpoints of psychoanalytically informed, family, existential and feminist psychology. These perspectives, which focus on the individ...
Article
Levels of debt have reached an unprecedented extreme in Iceland. This rise has occurred in the context of a consumer culture highlighting supposed psychological benefits of buying consumer goods. Over-indebtedness can have serious financial, social and psychological consequences, thus studying its antecedents is vital. This paper reports findings f...

Network

Cited By