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Women Health. 1997;26(2):69-84.

Self-discrepancy theory, standards for body evaluation, and eating disorder symptomatology among college women.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Denison University, Granville, OH 43023, USA.


Potential links between personal and sociocultural aspects of body-image concerns and sets of behavioral and emotional symptoms associated with eating disorders were explored within a self-discrepancy theory framework. It was predicted that actual:ideal body-image discrepancies from one's own standpoint would be related to symptoms reflecting feelings like dissatisfaction and actual:ought body-image discrepancies from a societal standpoint would be related to symptoms reflecting feelings like anxiety. The Bodies Questionnaire, Eating Disorder Inventory, and demographic information were completed by 196 undergraduate women volunteers. Results generally supported the predictions, although the effects were small. Perceived body-image discrepancies from sociocultural prescriptions for slimness and appearance are more closely associated with symptoms reflecting failures to achieve these standards than with symptoms reflecting efforts to attain them. In addition, the contribution of personal ideals to bulimic symptomatology and body dissatisfaction includes concerns about body attributes not associated with weight. Possible clinical applications are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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