Airbrushing: The effects


For quite some time now, airbrushing has received criticism of promoting unrealistic beauty standards. This has led to certain companies, for example, ASOS avoiding airbrushing models on their sites. While the public has taken an openly positive view on this, there is little research into the effects that it may have on actual consumption.

In a recent experiment, Emotional Logic measured the effects of airbrushing advertisements on consumer opinions. Participants were split into two groups and shown an advertisement image – one group was shown the original photo and the other was shown an airbrushed version. Results showed that out of those who were shown an airbrushed version, 80% participants agreed that a product in the photo looked attractive. Out of those shown the unedited image, 64% rated the product as looking attractive.

Interestingly, viewing airbrushed photos lead people to rate themselves as more unlikely to buy the product – 63% of those shown the airbrushed photograph voted this compared to 59% who were presented with the un-airbrushed photo. Though this is not an overly large difference, it questions whether the vast amount of money that advertisers put into airbrushing images in the media is really worth it.

When we looked at gender differences, females are more likely to state that airbrushed photos are more attractive. Also, males are more unlikely to but the products in both conditions. This suggests that females are perhaps more susceptible to print advertisements in general.

With an increase in online shopping behaviours meaning we’re exposed to more airbrushed images than ever, it is even more important to understand the effects of airbrushing on consumption habits. For more information, contact us today!