An attentional bias for thin bodies and its relation to body dissatisfaction

Christina Joseph, Vanessa LoBue, Luis M. Rivera, Jennifer Irving, Sarah Savoy, Maggie Shiffrar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research suggests that humans have an attentional bias for the rapid detection of emotionally valenced stimuli, and that such a bias might be shaped by clinical psychological states. The current research extends this work to examine the relation between body dissatisfaction and an attentional bias for thin/idealized body shapes. Across two experiments, undergraduates completed a gender-consistent body dissatisfaction measure, and a dot-probe paradigm to measure attentional biases for thin versus heavy bodies. Results indicated that men (n = 21) and women (n = 18) show an attentional bias for bodies that correspond to their own gender (Experiment 1), and that high body dissatisfaction among men (n = 69) and women (n = 89) predicts an attentional bias for thin same-gender bodies after controlling for body mass index (BMI) (Experiment 2). This research provides a new direction for studying the attentional and cognitive underpinnings of the relation between body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalBody Image
Volume19
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

Keywords

  • Attentional biases
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Body image
  • Visual attention

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