The devil wears stata: Thin-ideal media’s minimal contribution to our understanding of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

That media thinness (media depicting unrealistically thin actresses or models) contributes to female body dissatisfaction and, potentially, eating disorders has been often reported as established fact for decades. However, like many fields of psychology, particularly those linked to advocacy efforts, a gulf exists between the rhetoric used by some scholars and advocates, and the actual data available to support such claims. This article will document that the evidentiary base for media thinness effects is neither as consistent nor as high-quality as reported. Consistent methodological issues across many studies have increased the potential for spurious positive findings. Best practice approaches to reduce demand characteristics, ensure careful matching of experimental conditions, and control for other important variables in correlational studies are uncommon. Further, studies that do use best practices tend to return weaker evidence for effects. Although examples of good science in this field do exist, overall it may risk ideological rigidity, wherein advocacy goals are primary over careful examination of data. Suggestions for improvement are offered, along with recommendations that media research consider theories of consumer motivation rather than direct effects of content. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)