Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Organizational Studies

Reader 1

Jennifer Groscup

Reader 2

Jeff Lewis

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Rights Information

Clara MA Gorek


The current study explored the impact of intellectual versus physical affirmations received over Instagram, either directly or indirectly, on females’ physical acceptance, intellectual pursuits during leisure and financial decision making. A total of 256 female students of the Claremont Colleges were recruited through advertisement of the study on the colleges’ designated Facebook page, and flyers posted around the campuses. The longitudinal, quasi- experimental study used a 2 (Type of Affirmation: Physical or Intellectual) x 2 (Mode of Exposure: Feed or Direct Message) x 3 (Phase: 1, 2, 3) fully crossed factorial design. Participants who voluntarily agreed to participate were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions. Participants exposed to physical affirmations, via Instagram’s direct messaging feature, reported significantly lower levels of physical acceptance, were less likely to engage in intellectual activities during leisure, and made financial decisions that reflected a greater desire to attend to their appearance than to their intellect, compared to participants exposed to physical affirmations, via feed. The opposite pattern of interaction was found for participants exposed to intellectual affirmations. The results support previous psychological literature on social role theory, stereotype threat, self-objectification theory, social comparison theory, and affirmation theory. The implications of this study concern female leadership development, specifically how exposure to intellectual affirmations over social media has the potential to attenuate the negative effects living in a patriarchal society has on females.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.