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Body Image. 2012 Mar;9(2):298-301. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2011.12.005. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Self-report and startle-based measures of emotional reactions to body image cues as predictors of Drive for Thinness and Body Dissatisfaction in female college students.

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Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA.


The purpose was to compare self-report and psychophysiological assessment techniques in the measurement of emotional response to body image cues. Female college students (n=53; % Caucasian=53.6; M body mass index=26.1 kg/m²) completed the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI-3) and viewed photos of themselves both unaltered and morphed to simulate weight gain. Response to the photos was assessed by self-report and the affect modulated startle paradigm. EDI-3 Drive for Thinness (DT) and Body Dissatisfaction (BD) scale scores were correlated with startled amplitude for the largest simulated weight gain photo. Startle eye blink amplitude predicted more variance in DT and BD subscales than self-reported response to the image. The affect modulated startle paradigm may provide unique information in the assessment of eating disorder symptomatology that cannot be captured via self-report techniques, and has potential to inform evaluation of treatment outcomes of eating and body image disorders.

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