Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Current Projects

Self-presentation on Facebook: A picture is worth a thousand words 
Investigators: Elizabeth A. Daniels and Eileen L. Zurbriggen

Eighty percent of US teens use a social networking site and 87% percent of internet users between 18 and 29 years of age engage in social networking (Lenhart, Madden, Smith, Purcell, Zickuhr, & Rainie, 2011).  Facebook is currently one of the most popular social networking sites in the world with over 845 million active members including a large number of young people in the US (Facebook, February 6, 2012).  Despite youths’ heavy engagement with social networking sites, there is a relatively modest body of literature on the role of Facebook in young people’s lives.  Further, the majority of the existing research has used college student samples; relatively few studies have used teen samples.  Accordingly, there is much to be learned about the function of Facebook in psychological development across adolescence and emerging adulthood.  In this study, we are examining how teen girls and young woman portray themselves on their Facebook profile and how they evaluate other young women.

Let’s trade sexy for smart: What teens think of today’s media fare
Investigator: Elizabeth A. Daniels and Aurora M. Sherman

Events like Lindsay Lohan’s arrests, Tiger Wood’s infidelity and Kim Kardashian’s marital break-up dominate media headlines. Bling, beauty, and sex are big.  In this study, teens were asked what they think about this media fare and how the media landscape could look different in their eyes.  In addition, they were presented with alternative media images of accomplished females including a CEO, military pilot, and athlete.  In the present study, I am examining teens' attitudes toward these images.

Sex Object, Athletes, Sexy Athletes: Media Images of Women Athletes
Investigator: Elizabeth A. Daniels

Media images play a key role in shaping and reinforcing societal standards of beauty. In general, media is full of idealized images of women and a strong focus on the need to change women’s bodies. A large body of psychological research has documented the negative effects of this media on females (e.g., American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, 2007). In contrast, we know little about how positive imagery impacts female viewers. Depictions of women engaged in sport suggest that women can be powerful and strong. Their bodies are, therefore, not for display but rather they are instrumental. However, women athletes are routinely sexualized in media. In this study, I examine the impact of sexualized versus performance-focused images of women athletes on adolescent girls and young women. I also investigate boys' and men's attitudes toward women after viewing these different images.

Images of Women Athletes: Do They Exist in Magazines Adolescent Girls Read?
Investigator: Elizabeth A. Daniels & Linda Porzelius

Media generally portrays narrow and stereotypical representations of women and femininity that transmit unrealistic standards for physical appearance. In contrast to media focused on women’s physical appearance and body shape, some media portray women as active and athletic. We know little about how common such images are in popular teen magazines. Images of women athletes that center on their athleticism may counter pervasive media portrayals of women as sexual objects. In this study, I investigate the prevalence of images of physically active women in magazines popular among adolescent girls.

Sexual Objectification in the Workplace 
Investigators: David Frederick, Andrea Niles, Elizabeth A. Daniels, and Janet Lever 

This project looks at the women's feelings of being sexually objectified in the workplace. Most of the current research on objectification looks at individuals' tendency to self-objectify, i.e., evaluating oneself from a 3rd-party perspective. In this study, we are shifting the focus to examine individuals' perceptions that others are objectifying them. Further, we are examining this phenomenon in the workplace which is an important context in the lives of most adults.
Promoting Positive Body Image among Girls
Investigator: Elizabeth A. Daniels, Amy Ford, and John Edwards

Dissatisfaction with one’s body is prevalent among females; in many Western contexts it is considered a normative perception (Murnen, 2011). A large body of research has documented a wide range of negative outcomes associated with body dissatisfaction including low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders (Stice, 2002; Stice & Shaw, 2002). Thus, poor body image is a significant mental health risk for females and an important arena for intervention research. This intervention study assessed whether involvement in an 8-week yoga series over the summer positively impacted pre-adolescent girls' body perceptions.

Youth Development in Sports and Physical Activities
Investigator: Elizabeth A. Daniels

In the present study, I examine young adults’ retrospective accounts of their important experiences in physical activities during childhood and adolescence, and investigate their current levels of physical activity. The goal is better understand how experiences in physical activities are related to subsequent activity involvement.

Looking Back: The Effects of High School Activity Involvement
Investigators: Tara K. Scanlan, Elizabeth A. Daniels, Kimberly B. Kahn, & Larry Scanlan

Youth involvement in organized activities is linked with positive development. However to date, little is known about the underlying mechanisms between activity involvement and particular outcomes, such as academic achievement. For example, we do not know why youth who are involved in organized activities do better in school than their non-involved peers. The main goal of this project is to investigate potential mechanisms in the form of personal qualities, defined as characteristics, traits, skills, or abilities, that individuals reported developing, nurturing, or reinforcing in high school organized activities. A related goal is detailing with a micro-level lens the specific pathways through which individuals develop, nurture, or reinforce personal qualities in activity contexts. Lastly, the final goal is to investigate the consequences of activity involvement across the lifespan. This project involves a unique cohort adult women who played interscholastic sports pre-Title IX. These women, now in their 50s, were also highly involved in a range of other extracurricular activities. They were interviewed about the relationships between their life accomplishments, personal qualities, and high school activities.

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