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J Psychosom Res. 2007 Jun;62(6):631-9.

Emotional reactions following exposure to idealized bodies predict unhealthy body change attitudes and behaviors in women and men.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.



We explored the extent to which changes in emotional states following exposure to images of idealized bodies predict unhealthy body change attitudes and behaviors in women and men, and whether particular psychological traits mediate these effects.


One hundred thirty-three women and 93 men were assessed for unhealthy attitudes and behaviors related to body weight and muscles using the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2), the Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire, and the strategies to increase muscles subscale of the Body Change Inventory. Psychological traits assessed included body dissatisfaction (EDI-2), internalization of the thin/athletic ideal (Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire-3), body comparison (Body Comparison Scale), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory), depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II), and identity confusion (Self-Concept Clarity Scale). Participants were then exposed to photographs of thin female models and muscular male models, and visual analogue scales were used to measure changes in postexposure state body dissatisfaction, anger, anxiety, and depression.


Postexposure increases in state anger, anxiety, depression, and body dissatisfaction correlated with drive for thinness and disordered eating symptomatology in women, while postexposure increases in state body dissatisfaction correlated with muscle development in men. Analyses revealed that internalization and body comparison mediated these relationships, with trait body dissatisfaction, trait depression, self-esteem, and self-concept/identity confusion serving as mediators for women only.


These results are indicative of gender differences in: (a) reactions to idealized bodies; (b) psychological traits that predispose individuals to experience these reactions; and (c) types of body change behavior that are associated with these reactions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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