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Body Image. 2008 Sep;5(3):271-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2008.03.006. Epub 2008 Jun 30.

Cognitive processing of body and appearance words as a function of thin-ideal internalization and schematic activation.

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Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


To better understand how women at risk of body image disturbance respond when their body concerns are activated, we examined attentional and memory biases in undergraduate women with high thin-ideal internalization, an identified risk factor for eating disorders, following priming of body and appearance concerns. Female undergraduates (N=186) viewed photos of either sports cars or attractive swimsuit models, then completed the Lexical Decision Test, a word recall test, and questionnaires assessing thin-ideal internalization and eating disorder symptomatology. High thin-ideal internalizers did not exhibit cognitive biases predicted by cognitive models of eating disorders, even when their body and appearance concerns were primed by exposure to attractive models. Converging evidence suggests that high-risk non-clinical samples rarely exhibit cognitive biases characteristic of individuals with eating disorders, and, in fact, may actually incorporate ideal appearance into their schemas and preferentially attend to attractive stimuli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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