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The significance of self-presentation on Instagram in the context of the development of eating disorders

Instagram is one of the networks showing the strongest growth worldwide, and is also of considerable significance for adolescents in Germany. A trend study conducted by IZI in 2018 investigated (among other things) the self-presentation of girls on Instagram, and the results suggest that girls’ health is being endangered by an increasingly overcritical view of their own bodies, and by the promotion of eating disorders. In collaboration with the Bundesfachverband Essstörungen (BFE, the German Association for Eating Disorders), a follow-up study is now investigating these issues by questioning girls and young women under treatment for eating disorders.

The study uses qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the significance of self-presentation and of important influencers on Instagram for the development of eating disorders among girls and young women. The subjects are women who are receiving treatment for an eating disorder currently. They are considered as experts on themselves and their illnesses, a status that qualifies them to offer suggestions for preventative measures and countermeasures.

The aim of the study is to understand this relatively new phenomenon in its significance for the development of eating disorders, to assess typical manifestations, and – with women and girls affected by these disorders participating as experts – to develop preventative measures and possible forms of support.


Training units for the promotion of gender sensitivity and media and consumer competence: evaluation of a pilot project for a Bavaria-wide professional development programme for early childhood and after-school educators

Gender is, right from the start, the most formative category for identity construction. Children are perceived as girls or boys from the beginning, and from the age of three – if not before – they define themselves as one or the other. This leads to manifestations of gender-specific socialization, and fosters particular strengths, behaviours and talents, while restricting others.
The media and consumer worlds also play a prominent role. They shape gender stereotypes and therefore mental images of what “typical” girls and boys are like, and they influence ideas about the future, about what it means to be a successful woman or a successful man.
The aim of the project is to implement professional development modules on gender sensitivity and media and consumer competence, and to evaluate these in terms of their workability and effectiveness. These modules deal with typical everyday phenomena that are often familiar to the educational practitioners, such as “boys who don’t obey rules”, and they suggest possible courses of action. The pilot project is aimed at teachers in Bavarian after-school clubs and day-care facilities, and was initiated with the support of the Bavarian Ministry of State for Family, Labour, and Social Affairs.

To test the modules, they will first be discussed with five practitioners in the “pretest phase”. Once they have been optimized, a scientific evaluation will be carried out in ten day-care facilities and ten after-school clubs. Here the professional development modules will be put into practice, and their workability in the field will be tested. For this purpose, all the participating teachers will fill in questionnaires both before the start and after the end of the course. These will be used to test individual knowledge in the area of gender-sensitive action and media and consumer competence. In addition, qualitative interviews will be conducted with each team member in the course of the training, to get an accurate impression of how the modules are being implemented in practice. Video observations will also be conducted in one or two selected facilities, and interviews with participants will be recorded.