Document Type


Publication Date



Guided by the self- and affect–management (SESAM) model, the current study employed a selective exposure quasi-experimental design in which women (N = 381; Mage = 31.50, SD = 4.89) chose a narrative genre (romance or career) they would like to read, featuring a thin or large character with low or high body esteem, to examine individual differences that influence story selections and subsequent impacts on their self-concepts. Results indicated participants’ salient self-concepts pertaining to romance and career predicted story genre selection. Participants with higher BMI were more inclined to read narratives featuring a large character. Those who read about thin characters with high body esteem reported the highest state appearance esteem. Participants who read about large, high body esteem characters reported more positive affect than those who read about thin, low body esteem characters. Perceived discrepancies between oneself and the character dampened some positive impacts of exposure to high body esteem characters with greater discrepancies resulting in lower state appearance esteem and less positive affect. Implications for self-consistency in media selection and the role of self-discrepancy are discussed.


This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Media Psychology, volume 26, issue 6, in 2023 at It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Taylor & Francis

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Friday, November 15, 2024