Can a Value-Based Writing Task Reduce a Self-Discrepant Body Image?

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The purpose of this research study was to examine the relationship between body self-discrepancy, as measured by the Body Image Ideals Questionnaire (BIQ; Cash & Szymanski, 1995), the Body Mass Index Silhouettes Matching Test (BMI-SMT; Peterson, Ellenberg, & Crossman, 2003) and a self-affirmation manipulation. The sample consisted of 80 female undergraduate university students recruited through class announcements and posters. Participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental or control condition and were each individually guided through the experiment. All participants completed (a) pre-test questionnaires, (b) an exposure to media images depicting thin female models, (c) either a self-affirming or a neutral writing task, and (d) post-test measures. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and repeated measures analysis of variance. It was hypothesized that participants in the experimental group would experience a greater decrease in body self-discrepancy at post-test compared to those in the control group. The results suggested that women in both conditions reported a significant increase in body self-discrepancy scores on the post BIQ measure, and endorsed wanting to attain smaller silhouettes (BMI-SMT measure) at both pre and post. Although previous studies have found that self-affirmations have had a psychological buffering effect and led to a reduction in reported body dissatisfaction scores (e.g., Armitage, 2012; Bucchianeri & Corning, 2012), this particular study did not show a decrease in body self-discrepancy scores. Since this study uniquely investigated a particular component of body image concern (body self-discrepancy) in relation to a self-affirming manipulation, it is likely that more research is needed to further understand this facet of body image.
Educational Psychology
Lester, C. (2016). Can a Value-Based Writing Task Reduce a Self-Discrepant Body Image? (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/25200