Facebook users compare their appearance most often to their own images, than to those of their peers, and rarely to images of family members and celebrities, it found.
“Our research shows that spending more time reading magazines and on Facebook is associated with greater self-objectification among young women, said lead researcher Jasmine Fardouly from the University of New South Wales, Australia.
These relationships are influenced by women’s tendency to compare their appearance to others, particularly to peers on Facebook, she added.
To help young women stop comparing themselves and promote wellness, the researchers recommend that young women post fewer images of themselves on Facebook and follow people on Facebook who post photos less frequently.
Surveying 150 female college students and staff aged 17-25, researchers found that on an average, women spent about two hours a day on Facebook, accounting for 40 percent of daily internet use, and check the site every few hours.
Unlike TV and music videos, on Facebook users can compare pictures of themselves with their peers or past images of themselves.
The researchers also noted that self-comparisons may lead to greater self-objectification for women as they look at themselves literally as an observer.
“Self-comparisons to images of a previous self might engender a greater focus on specific body parts, also contributing to self-objectification,” the researchers observed.
“This research highlights some of the potential negative influences that Facebook may have on how young women view their body,” Fardouly said.
The study was published in Psychology of Women Quarterly.