Before and After Avatar Exposure: The Impact of Body Scanning Technology on Body Satisfaction, Mood, and Appearance Management
Research published in Clothing and Textiles Research Journal (CTRJ) initiated a call for research investigating how the third dimension affects one's perception of their body. Specifically, Loker, Ashdown, and Carnrite (2008) raised the following questions: "Will the ability to see ourselves in three dimensions (3D) increase body acceptance of normal variations and counteract the popular media images of what constitutes a beautiful body? Or will three-dimensional views increase dissatisfaction with our real bodies?" (p. 175). In response to this call, this study investigated the unique experience of viewing one's body in 3D on participants' self-reported levels of body satisfaction, mood, and appearance management. The current study tested Self Discrepancy Theory (SDT; Higgins, 1987) by examining whether participants' (N = 101) Actual-Ideal (AI) discrepancy (a discrepancy construed based on their own mental representation of their body) increases after viewing their 3D avatar (a discrepancy construed based on their actual body size measurements). It was predicted that participants would report an increase in their AI discrepancy after viewing their 3D avatar, as the scan confronts the participant with their actual body size (H1). SDT predicts that an increased AI discrepancy (e.g., post avatar scan) would result in fewer reports of body satisfaction (H2), decreased mood (H3), and increased likelihood to manage one's appearance (H4) compared to participants' baseline reports. All hypotheses were supported. Results and implications are discussed.