Research findings to be presented at social work colloquium

Catherine Sykes was inspired by a cereal box to conduct a truth-in-advertising survey.

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Research findings to be presented at social work colloquium WACO—Catherine Sykes, who is graduating with a master’s degree in social work from Baylor University, received inspiration for her research project sitting at breakfast one morning.

Because she had at one time suffered from an eating disorder and saw many of her friends still suffering, she wondered what she could do to address the situation. Her cereal box gave her the answer.

“Next to a picture of a morsel of the cereal were the words ‘not actual Size,’” Sykes said. “Here they have regulations on acknowledging the actual size for a bit of cereal, but never mind about the entire human being that gets published in advertisements. Where’s her ‘not actual size’ label?”

Photo labeling

Sykes’ research on photo labeling as it applies to truth-in-advertising regulations, completed in cooperation with the Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders will be presented May 7 in Waco at the Baylor School of Social Work’s master of social work practice colloquium.

Sykes’ presentation will be one of 66 research and/or practice reports given that day— each on a topic regarding social justice issues.

Sykes conducted an online survey made available on the ANAD website ( ).

Survey questions measured self-perception in terms of thoughts, feelings and behaviors after viewing fashion models representative of current cultural ideals in photographic advertising.

Two hundred and thirteen participants viewed photos of fashion models of both genders, and then answered a series of questions, responding according to a four-point scale. The participants then viewed the same photographs with photo-labels and responded to the same set of questions.

Positive impact

Findings from the research study provide evidence that photo-labeling has a positive impact on self-perception for the population and in the context studied.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that examines a point-of-contact intervention in photographic advertising,” Sykes said. “The findings are exciting because they show that it is possible to negate some of the psychological damage that can occur when individuals view unrealistic media images and then attempt to hold themselves to those same unrealistic standards.”

Registration for the School of Social Work’s colloquium begins at 7:30 a.m., May 7, in the Cashion Academic Center on the Baylor University campus in Waco. Presentations are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no cost for the colloquium. For more information, contact or call 254-710-6400.

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