"Antibodies": investigating the effects of social media usage and psychological distress on body dissatisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the habits of people all over the world. Several hours in front of computer screens, along with the inherent instability and uncertainty produced by the pandemic, have compromised people’s psychological well-being. This study investigates the impact of the frequency of social media usage and psychological distress on the levels of body dissatisfaction before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: A total of 289 Portuguese (n = 167) and British (n = 122) young women aged 18–35 participated in the study. Levels of body dissatisfaction, stress, depression, anxiety, and frequency of social media usage were assessed using self-report questionnaires before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Student’s t test and linear regression were used for the data analysis. Results: The Portuguese group presented a higher level of body dissatisfaction before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to the British. Both groups showed increased levels of body dissatisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, explained by the widespread use of social media and high levels of psychological distress. Conclusions: Our study reveals that high levels of negative affect and excessive social media usage have a deleterious effect on Portuguese and British young women during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a theoretical foundation to motivate the design of new tools to reduce body-related distress and help moderate social media use for similar future situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-331
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Neuroscience
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Covid-19 pandemics
  • Distress
  • Social media

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