Dying to be Thin: The Effects of Mortality Salience and Body-Mass Index on Restricted Eating Among Women
terror management, eating behavior, body mass index
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Following terror management theory, the authors suggest women’s striving to attain a thin physique is fueled in part by existential concerns. In three studies, women restricted consumption of a nutritious but fattening food in response to reminders of mortality (mortality salience; MS). When conducted in private (Study 1), this effect was found among women but not men; when replicated in a group setting in which social comparison was likely (Studies 2 and 3), only women who were relatively less successful attaining the thin ideal (i.e., high body mass index; BMI) restricted eating after MS. In Study 3, MS caused high BMI women to perceive themselves as more discrepant from their ideal thinness; this perceived failure mediated the effects of MS and BMI on eating behavior. Findings are discussed from a self-regulatory framework, which considered in the context of pressures for women to be thin, can shed light on health risk behavior.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Personality of Social Psychology Bulletin, v. 31, issue 10, p. 1400-1412
Scholar Commons Citation
Goldenberg, Jamie L.; Arndt, Jamie; Hart, Joshua; and Brown, Megan, "Dying to be Thin: The Effects of Mortality Salience and Body-Mass Index on Restricted Eating Among Women" (2005). Psychology Faculty Publications. 1509.