Research Proposal 1

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Research Proposal

1.Identification of the research question, the overall objective and the sub objectives Body image, a more global concept, encompasses more than just the state of our bodies; it involves “an individual’s thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and evaluations of his or her own body” (Liechty, 2012, p 71). In other words, body image encompasses “how we see ourselves and how we feel about what we see” (Kim and Lennon 2007, p.3)

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When gathering valuable research, it is critical that there is a distinct understanding of what needs to be achieved. To guarantee clarity, the researcher should clearly state the issue and define what the overall research question is to ensure the research question is focused on and answered accordingly.

1.1 Research Question
The overall research question I have extracted from extensive reading on academic literature is concerning body image satisfaction concerning ‘Generation Y’ females and how it impacts their purchase intent: “An investigation into the relationship between body image satisfaction and purchase intent behaviours in Gen Y females”
(Harris & Carr 2001) reported that 61% to 84% of adults have body image concerns. From extensive reading on the literature in this area it is evident that these body image concerns have a direct impact on consumer behaviour in relation to purchase intent, specifically concerning females. (Kim & Damhorst, 2010) state that women are more often disappointed when trying on clothing. This statement suggests that retailers are more likely affected by women’s purchasing intent due to their high level of body dissatisfaction.
However, (Sara Emme Rieke, 2016) Argues that Millennial females are more influenced by factors such as their own personal preferences, i.e morals and beliefs. These factors have a notable impact and influence on body image satisfaction in females. The model developed in this study by Rieke et al. provided me as a novice researcher with a new perspective on body image satisfaction and purchase intent. It extends the theory of reasoned action by identifying specific factors which influence body image satisfaction which in turn results to the final purchase decision.

1.2 Sub objectives
1. To analyse the effect of media on body image dissatisfaction have amongst female consumers
Body dissatisfaction is a common characteristic of many women and can express itself in terms of inconsistency between perceived, actual and desired body image. (Herman and Mack, 1975; Ogden, 2003; Muth and Cash, 1997). From substantial readings of many papers in this field, I have gathered evidence to suggest that women play a central role in creating and magnifying body dissatisfaction. It is suggested that comparisons between the self and media ideals of female attractiveness creates dissatisfaction and “shame” (Silberstein et al., 1987; Morrison et al., 2004; Bessenoff, 2006).
2. How social factors can have a negative/ positive impact on females and their buying behaviour
Previous studies have shown that the majority of girls as young as 7 are not satisfied with their bodies: They want to be thinner, prettier or even want a different body shape.
(Martin and Peters, 2005). Attractive or lean women are considered to be better in areas of work and dating whereas overweight people are perceived in a more negative light with personality traits such as laziness and non-ambitious. These societal beliefs have negative implications on a female consumer psyche. (Alessandro & Chitty, 2011). Therefore, these negative implications will directly impact females purchase intention depending on how they feel about one’s self. If they are confident and happy with their body image this will result in a positive implication whereas the idea of dissatisfaction in their body image will lead to negative purchase intent behaviours.
3. Analyse the relationship in which societal factors have a direct impact on body image satisfaction
It is evident from literature reviewed that a female’s personal satisfaction which impacts satisfaction with their body image is impacted by a range of different social factors from society to family and friends.

2. Brief Rationale for Research Topic
The study of body image satisfaction amongst females specifically in relation to Gen Y and its impact on purchasing behaviour is a widely researched topic thanks to extensive research and studies carried out in this particular field. Body image is a multi dimensional construct, in that it involves perceptual, affective and behavioural components ( Cash & Henry, 1995 ).
However, (Sara Emme Rieke, 2016) Argues that Millennial females are more influenced by factors such as their own personal preferences, i.e morals and beliefs. These factors have a notable impact and influence on body image satisfaction in females. The model developed in this study by Rieke et al. provided me as a novice researcher with a new perspective on body image satisfaction and purchase intent. It extends the theory of reasoned action by identifying specific factors which influence body image satisfaction which in turn results to the final purchase decision.
3. Proposed Research Methodology
An analysis of contemporary literature on this area established the potential methods of research. The purpose of this research is to gain a greater insight into the relationship between body image satisfaction and purchase intent behaviours, in Generation Y females.
As quoted by Borland (nee White), Akram (2007), adopted qualitative techniques by using, the Contour Drawing Rating Scale. This was used to examine the women’s self-image and the ideal size they perceived models should be. In contrast with this, Rieke, Fowler, Jung Chang & Velikova (2016) chose to use a quantitative method. Their data was collected and analysed by creating a survey using Qualtrics. The results of the survey were then examined using IBM SPSS Statistics 21.

3.1 Qualitative or Quantitative
Cited by To, Le?, Le?, (2015) Data analysis in qualitative research methods deals with texts, i.e. words and meaning. Qualitative data include texts from interviews, conversations, documents, personal reflections and narratives. On the other hand, quantitative data is based off meanings derived from numbers, collection results in numerical and standardised data and analysis conducted through the use of diagrams and statistics, Dey (1993); Healey and Rawlinson (1994). For the focus of this study Qualitative research is a more suitable research method then Quantitative as the overall aim of this research is to understand the nature of experience of the respondents. When conducting my qualitative research, I’ve considered the research methods that would be most beneficial for the purpose of this paper. From my extensive research it seems using purposeful sampling for my research method would be key for accessing a wide variety of people relevant to answering my research question.

3.2 Focus Group
Focus groups reflect the processes through which meaning is constructed in everyday life and to that extent can be regarded as more naturalistic than individual interviews (Wilkinson, 1998).
Data collection is one of the key focus’ of my research project in order to answer my research question attentively and accurately. I have chosen to carry out my research by conducting focus groups as a method of interviewing that involves more than one interviewee. Focus groups are an excellent way to explore key issues from consumer perspectives which is vital for me when conducting research on consumers purchase intent. The key issue of body image satisfaction amongst females (Gen Y) will be explored deeply as issues will be arising from a group perspective. This group dynamic and interaction is essential as it will develop insights and generate ideas for my research.
From carrying out a focus group, I hope to determine factors such as attitudes, feelings and behaviours amongst female consumers when intending to purchase. As a researcher I will undertake my work within the traditions of qualitative research. I will be explicitly concerned with revealing the issues with which they are confronted. I will aim to provide a setting without bias in order to extract my participants views and perspectives on the issue regarding body image satisfaction amongst females and how this level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction influences there buying behaviour.
However, although the focus group method is a high-quality tool for gaining insight about markets, criticisms stem from problems of reliability. This is in relation to the role of ‘me’ the moderator and the idea that there may be variation in the interpretation of transcripts.
4. An Outline Literature Review
For further investigation of my research topic I found it important to begin my extensive research by identifying the age bracket of Gen Y consumers. Born between 1980 and 1994 (Kumar & Lim, 2008). Meaning the youngest of this generation being 24 and the oldest being 38 years old as of 2018. However, contrasting with this statement, N. Howe & W. Strauss, outline; Millennials, typically defined as people born between 1982 and 2004 ( Howe & Strauss, 2000). Although the exact dates vary among researchers with some using the time frame from 1981 to 1995 (Solka et al., 2011). In retrospect to these statements it’s been indicated that Gen Y age group ranges from 1980 – 2004. I am aware that I fit into this particular generation making it a personal interest to further investigate a gap in the research for factors that influence Gen Y ‘s body image satisfaction and its impact on purchasing intent in Ireland.
The configuration of findings by S.E. Rieke et al. has been an illuminating piece of research as, this study adds to literature by giving an insight into the psyche of generation Y female consumers body image satisfaction and the elements steering them to purchase clothing Rieke, Fowler, Jung Chang & Velikova (2016). Females who are unhappy with their body image, usually have a negative perception on purchasing new items as they feel insecure which in return causes them to shop less and spend less. Helen Borland (née White) (2007), relates to this academic literature by stating ” key to understanding how women relate to advertising is to understand how they relate to themselves and the image they hold of their own bodies when exposed to certain advertising images; whether the advertising makes them feel good or bad about their bodies, which may then influence their prosperity to buy the product.”
In a 1997 Psychological study Today Body Image Survey, 89% of the women said they want to lose weight (Garner 1997). More than 60% said they were dissatisfied with their overall appearance – especially their body weight, hips and abdomen. According to Fallon (1990); Harrison, (2000) the unattainable ultra-thin ideal female images presented as the norm in the media may be responsible for causing highly unrealistic ideals in women. This in turn can lead women to feeling dissatisfied about their body image. From my extensive reading on this topic it seems that the ideal female image has altered over time.

An area that was identified after extensive reading from the literature (Pruvli, 2003) is in relation to body image being in direct correlation with social influences. This is the forever evolving issue due to trends in society and the influence of social media, for example, Instagram bloggers/celebrities. Trend’s and norms are constantly changing due to different media focuses. ‘Since the millennium, the media have shifted their focus on a more athletic “ideal” female image. These images promote a very strong, healthy image of women (Pruvli, 2003). Pruvli explains how the use of the athletic female is a positive turning point: they present a strong, positive, capable, confident female. This is a more realistic approach for females when assessing their body image as the focus is more on strength and health as opposed to thin and unhealthy.

By comparison, Garner (1997); Fallon (1990); Harrison, (2000) with Pruvli (2003) it is clearly evident from the literature that body image norms have transitioned over the years. This area of transition is something that I am particularly interested in as I have the aim in this dissertation to carry out extensive research into this area of social factors shaping the way in which women view their body image and their level of satisfaction in their appearance. The “ideal” look of ultra-thin has moved to a more athletic “ideal” body. This suggests that social factors have an impact on female’s perception of body image and what they should look like as opposed to what they want to look like.
Archana Kumar, Heejin Lim, (2008) “Age differences in mobile service perceptions: comparison of Generation Y and baby boomers”, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 22 Issue: 7, pp.568-577,
Cash, T.F. and Henry, P.E. (1995), “Women’s body images: the results of a national survey in the USA”, Sex Roles, Vol.33 Nos 1/ 2, pp. 19-28.

Dey, I. (1993) Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Routledge.
Fallon, A. (1990). Culture in the mirror. Sociocultural determinants of body image. In T.F. Cash and T. Pruzinsky (Eds.), Body Image, Development and Change (pp.80-109). New York: Guilford Press.
Garner, D.M (1997). The 1997 Body Image Survey Results, Psychological Today, 30(1),33-84.

Harris, D. &. (2001). Prevalence of concern about physical appearance in the general population. British Journal of Plastic Surgery, 54, 223-226.

Harrison, K. (2000). The body electric: Thin-ideal media and eating disorders in adolescents. Journal of Communication, 51 (2), 119 – 143.

Helen Borland (née White), Selina Akram, (2017) “Age is no barrier to wanting to look good: women on body image, age and advertising”, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 10 Issue 3, pp.310-333,
Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2000). Millennials rising: The next great generation. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Kim, H and Damhorst, M.L. (2010), “The relationship of body-related self-discrepancy to body dissatisfaction, apparel involvement, concerns with fit size of garments, and purchase intentions in online apparel shopping”, Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Vol 28 No. 4, pp. 239-254.

 Kim, J. and Lennon, S. (2007), “Mass media and self-esteem, body image, and eating disorder tendencies”, Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 3-23.

Liechty, T. (2012), “‘Yes, I worry about my weight y but for the most part I’m content with my body’: older women’s body dissatisfaction alongside contentment”, Journal of Women & Aging, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 70-88.

Martin, M.C, and Peters, C.O. (2005), “Exploring adolescent girls’ identification of beauty types through consumer collages”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol.9 No,4, pp. 391-406.

Pruvil, E. (2003, Winter). Images of Women in Advertising: Dynamics and Consumer Perceptions. EBS Review, pp 104 – 108.

Sara Emma Rieke, Deborah Clay Fowler, Hyo Jung Chang, Natalia Velikova, (2016) ” Exploration of factors influencing body image satisfaction and purchase intent: Millennial females”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol 20 Issue: 2, pp. 208-229,
Solka, A., Jackson, V.P. and Lee, M. (2011), “The influence of gender and culture on Generation Y consumer decision making styles”, The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 391-409
Sue Wilkinson (1998) Focus group methodology: a review, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 1:3, 181-203,
Vinh To, Quynh Le?, Thao Le?, (2015) “Applying Halliday’s linguistic theory in qualitative data analysis”, Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 15 Issue: 2, pp.135-146,
As I carry out my research, I will be presented with the limitation that I am a beginner in this area of research and the publication of a dissertation will be my first attempt at extensive research. As I am in my final year, I will be presented with various challenges of time limitations due to other modules and assignments and attending lectures and this will have an impact on the time available when conducting my research. There is a vast amount of academic literature surrounding my research question, however there is a lack of research specifically relating to Irish female consumers in this area of body image satisfaction and their purchase intent.


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