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Eat Behav. 2010 Apr;11(2):107-12. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2009.12.001. Epub 2009 Dec 11.

Social comparisons, appearance related comments, contingent self-esteem and their relationships with body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance among women.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia.


This study examined social comparisons, appearance related comments and contingent self-esteem, and their relationships with body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance in young adult women. Importantly, the role of both positive and negative appearance related comments, and upward and downward comparisons, were investigated. A self-report questionnaire assessing each of these variables was completed by one hundred and ninety-six women aged 18-35. A higher frequency of negative comments and contingent self-esteem were associated with higher upward comparisons, and more positive comments were associated with higher downward comparisons. Overall, social comparisons were shown to be more important than verbal commentary and contingent self-esteem. More upward comparisons and less downward comparisons uniquely predicted higher body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance. In addition, negative appearance comments were found to be more salient than positive comments. Negative comments and contingent self-esteem uniquely predicted more eating disturbance but positive comments were not a predictor of body dissatisfaction or eating disturbance. Longitudinal studies are now required to establish the direction of these relationships and to more fully examine the interplay among the factors. In addition, given that our study only assessed self-reported social comparisons, our findings need to be validated against experimental methods.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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