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Session Overview
Session 05: New Perspectives on Media Effects
Thursday, 07/Sep/2017:
10:30am - 11:30am

Session Chair: Astrid Carolus
Location: Room CIV 165

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#instafit? Exercise and eating behavior of athletes using vs. not using instagram

Astrid Carolus, Eva Katzenberger

University Wuerzburg, Germany

Relevance & Research Question

Instagram has become one of the most popular social networks worldwide. More than 600 million users post, share and comment on pictures. #fitspiration is one recent trend with users documenting their sports activities. Previous studies focussing on these users revealed significant differences regarding compulsive exercise and disordered eating, compared to a control group (e.g. Holland & Tiggemann, 2016). However, these studies especially analyzed female users and compared them to a control group with no reference to sports. To gain deep insights into the particular characteristics of athletes using instagram users we asked for the differences of female and male gym members who use respectively not use the application. Do these two groups differ regarding exercise and eating behavior?

Methods & Data

We conducted an online survey to ask for their body indices (Body Mass Index; Body Satisfaction Scale; Garner, Olmstead & Polivy, 1983), exercise behavior (e.g. Compulsive Exercise; Danielsen, Bjørnelv, & Rø, 2015; Drive for Muscularity Scale; McCreary, 2013) as well as their eating behavior (e.g. Drive for Thinness, Bulimia, subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory; Garner et al., 1983). Furthermore, we controlled for personality variables (Ten Item Personality Inventory; Gosling, Rentfrow & Swann, 2003). Participants (n=1101) were recruited online via social media services and offline via notices in gyms. They were required to be member of a gym to establish two groups of athletes with reporting to (1) use instagram (398 women, 196 men) and (2) not use instagram (325 women, 182 men).


Overall, effect sizes of significant differences found between athletes using vs. not using instagram were small. In terms of body indices the two groups do not differ significantly (BMI: p > .0). Furthermore, they did not differ in terms of the difference of real and desired weight and size (weight: p > .39; size: p > .49). Differences on body dissatisfaction were found to be statistically significant with instagram users scoring higher than non-users (t(1099) = 3.314, p=.001). The effect size is small, however (Cohen’s d=.20). Furthermore, instagram athletes scored higher on compulsive exercise (t(1099 )= 3.137, p=.002) as well as on drive for muscularity (t(1099 )= 3.296, p=.001). Again, both effects are small (d=.19 and d=.20). Results for eating behavior are as expected with instagram users scoring higher on drive for thinness (t(1091.9)= 2.871, p=.004) and bulimia (t(1092.5)= 2.594, p=.010), again with small effects (d=.17 and d=.16). All t-tests were run using Bonferroni-Holm corrections. Further analyses using multiple regression to account for gender, personality and a more detailed consideration of instagram use revealed more complex associations, indicating that these variables could compensate for and partly explain the differences found for athletes using and not using instagram.


Methodological aspects of improvement regarding sampling as well as the measures are derived. The results are discussed against underlying (media)psychological theories on (social) media effects.

Proximising climate change in media communication

Laura S. Loy1, Alexa Spence2

1University of Hohenheim, Germany; 2University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

Climate change communication has the goal to motivate engagement to limiting climate change. Based on construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2010), it has been argued that one effective media communication strategy might be to proximise climate change by focusing on local consequences. However, prior experimental studies have demonstrated inconsistent effects of communicating proximity vs. distance on engagement and other outcomes (Brügger et al., 2015; McDonald et al., 2015). Our research examined the impacts of proximising climate change on psychological distance, perceived relevance of the communicated contents, and climate change engagement. Moreover, we asked whether the relation between psychological distance and perceived relevance might be moderated by individuals’ identification with all humanity (IWAH, McFarland et al., 2012).

We conducted an online experiment with 508 residents of the UK (264 females, M = 47 years of age, SD = 16) applying a 2 (salience IWAH: high or low) × 2 (climate change communication: proximal or distant) + 1 (control) between subjects design. To manipulate the situational salience of IWAH, we presented one of two videos (man dancing with people all over the world vs. control). Then, we provided one of two news texts about climate change and actions to limit its consequences which were communicated as affecting the UK vs. Bangladesh. Participants in the control condition received neither video nor text.

Communicated proximity reduced psychological distance and indirectly increased three indicators of climate change engagement (i.e., amount of suggested initiatives for individual engagement participants devoted time to, R² = .10, amount of climate change related initiatives supported in a budget allocation task, R² = .20, and amount of budget allocated, R² = .14) through a reduced psychological distance and an increased relevance of the text (serial mediation). Including the video condition (IWAH vs. control) as a moderator of the relation between psychological distance and relevance in the model revealed only a tendency of the expected interaction effect (β = .13, p = .09, negative relation between psychological distance and relevance only present in control condition).

Our study was the first to investigate the role of IWAH in climate change communication and we suggest that the revealed tendency is a promising reason to continue this line of research. However, its operationalization needs to be further developed. Even though participants in the IWAH condition were more reminded of times when they had felt connected to others than participants in the control condition (direct manipulation check), our broader measure of situational IWAH did not differ.


Brügger, A., et al. (2015). Psychological responses to the proximity of climate change. Nature Climate Change, 5, 1031–1037.

McDonald, R. I., et al. (2015). Personal experience and the ‘psychological distance’ of climate change: An integrative review. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 44, 109–118.

McFarland, S., et al. (2012). All humanity is my ingroup: A measure and studies of identification with all humanity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103, 830–853.

Trope, Y., & Liberman, N. (2010). Construal-level theory of psychological distance. Psychological Review, 117, 440–463.

Impression-motivated reasoning in social media: Expectations of Facebook discussions reduce the persuasive effects of argument quality

Stephan Winter1, Lara Schwenner2, Lukas Belak2

1University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, The; 2University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook have become popular sources for news consumption and societal debates (Thorson & Wells, 2016). Compared to prior channels, this media environment is characterized by a high importance of self-presentation (Nadkarni & Hofman, 2012). Therefore, it is conceivable that pressures to create a favorable impression not only affect users’ online opinion expression but also the evaluation of incoming information and lead to a higher importance of social considerations when forming attitudes on the topics of current articles. In the terms of the heuristic-systematic model (HSM) of persuasion (Chaiken, Giner-Sorolla, & Chen, 1996), such a social mindset can be described as an impression-motivated mode of reasoning in which readers care less about the “correctness” of attitudes and the quality of arguments but more about the social acceptability of certain viewpoints. When others’ opinions on the topic are not known, the HSM predicts that people form attitudes in the middle of the spectrum to be flexible toward opponents and supporters of specific viewpoints (“moderate opinions minimize disagreement” heuristic).

In a laboratory experiment, 348 participants (age: M = 22.49, SD = 3.65) were asked to read a news article that dealt with a suggestion to reduce media coverage on suicides. In a 3x2x2 between-subjects design, the medium in which the article was presented (SNS vs. online news site vs. newspaper), the expectation of further discussion (no discussion vs. expectation of face-to-face discussion) and the level of argument quality within the article (low vs. high) were systematically varied. As an additional condition for the Facebook channel, the expectation of a discussion within the SNS was induced. To enhance external validity, participants in the SNS conditions logged onto their Facebook account and were redirected to the Facebook news site that served as stimulus material. After reading, participants’ attitudes toward the topic and the aroused motivational states were measured and their listed thoughts about the topic were coded.

Results of contrast analyses representing the patterns predicted by the HSM showed higher levels of impression motivation, t (141) = 2.09; p = .039, and a reduced influence of argument quality when participants expected to write a Facebook post on the topic. Compared to the other SNS conditions, the manipulation of argument quality was less influential with regard to readers’ attitudes and thought valence in this group. However, merely being logged onto Facebook alone did not induce a different style of processing in comparison to the print and online conditions.

These findings suggest that the importance of the quality of facts and arguments is not undermined per se when citizens retrieve news on current affairs on SNS. However, the normatively undesirable pattern of neglecting argument quality occurs when Facebook users expect future communication on the topic – which can be regarded as a quite frequent scenario. On a theoretical level, we argue that the HSM with its conceptualization of impression motivation is a valuable theoretical lens for future research on SNS news consumption and its democratic consequences.

Impact of Movies about Wall Street on Business Students

Inge Marije Brokerhof1, Omar Solinger1, Matthijs Bal2, Paul Jansen1

1VU University, Netherlands, The; 2University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Wall Street and the financial crisis have inspired the creation of several fictional movies about this topic. Some of these movies have a clear critical message towards Wall Street (Inside Job, Margin Call), while others are less critical or even celebrate the excesses of the Wall Street culture (The Wolf of Wall Street, Wall Street). Movies with a critical message claim to raise awareness for the financial malpractices on Wall Street and stimulate moral reflection and empathy for the victims of these practices. However, previous studies about the psychology of money have suggested that attention for money in general decreases empathy and helping behaviour due to underlying mechanisms of self-reliance (Vohs, Mead & Goode, 2006; Vohs, 2015). This “money-hypothesis” would predict that participants, on an automatic level, would become less empathetic after watching a movie about money and the financial world, regardless of the message of that movie. The hypothesis that takes the message and content of the movie into account, would suggest that the message and level of critique expressed in the movie matters. On a conscious level, people would become more critical towards the financial world.

Dutch business school students (N = 107), who have a future career prospect of working in the financial sector, participated in this experimental study. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions: “The Wolf of Wall Street” (high on excess, low on criticism), “The Big Short (high on excess, high on criticism), or “Inside Job” (low on excess, high on criticism) and the control condition (Planet Earth). The movies were watched in ‘cinema style’ with a group in a darkened classroom. Before the movie, some general background questions were asked. Halfway through the experiment, the movie was briefly paused and the students filled in a narrative transportation scale (Bussele & Bilandzic, 2009) and emotional state measure. After the movie ended, the students made different empathy and moral judgement tests, such as the mind in the eyes test (Baron-Cohen et al., 2011; also used by Kidd & Castano, 2012), perspective-taking scenario measure as in Galinsky, Magee, Inesi and Gruenfeld (2006), a cognitive subscale of empathy by Davis (1983) and the DIT2 (Rest, Narvaez, Thoma, & Bebeau, 1999). For behavioural intention, the students were asked whether they were interested in internships in financial companies and whether they wanted to sign up for an internship at ABN Amro (a Dutch bank). At the end, seemingly after the experiment, they were asked whether they voluntarily wanted to ‘donate’ part of their earned credits to other researchers who were really ‘in need’ of participants for their studies. This was in line with other experiments (e.g. Vohs et al., 2006) to test helping behaviour. There was a follow-up questionnaire after one week to see how long the effects last and to test for sleeper effects. This study has been conducted, but the results are still being analyzed. The findings will be known at the time of the Media Psychology conference.

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