Attractiveness is a phenomenon that is highly prioritised in society and has a variety of implications on the health, mental health, occupational, judicial and economic spheres. The media is known to have an impact on how certain norms, expectations and beliefs in society are formed, including, but not limited to, the creation of beauty ideals. Despite this importance, little research has been done on how men have come to perceive the attractiveness of women as a consequence of daily exposure to the media and photoshopped images of women. This study therefore attempts to address this gap in research by studying the impact that media and the use of photoshopping might have on males' perception of female attractiveness. A mixed-method approach was followed. Accordingly, both qualitative and quantitative data was collected during this study. The quantitative data entailed a comparison of heart rate, breathing rate, heart rate variability and viewing time for 24 participants between non-photoshopped and photoshopped images. The qualitative section comprised eye tracking data and a questionnaire for 25 male participants on the topic of media, photoshopping, features of attractiveness and what impact these three constructs might have on each other. The results indicate that on a physiological level there are limited and sporadic changes in how men view, and respond to, photoshopped images of women. Despite this finding, most participants report that on a psychological level media and photoshopping has an impact on their perceptions of beauty and their experience of interpersonal attraction.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2016.