The Discrepancy Between Emotional vs. Rational Estimates of Body Size, Actual Size, and Ideal Body Ratings

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Thirty‐two asymptomatic college females were assessed on multiple aspects of body image. Subjects' estimation of the size of three body sites (waist, hips, thighs) was affected by instructional protocol. Emotional ratings, based on how they “felt” about their body, elicited ratings that were larger than actual and ideal size measures. Size ratings based on rational instructions were no different from actual sizes, but were larger than ideal ratings. There were no differences between actual and ideal sizes. The results are discussed with regard to methodological issues involved in body image research. In addition, a working hypothesis that differentiates affective/emotional from cognitive/rational aspects of body size estimation is offered to complement current theories of body image. Implications of the findings for the understanding of body image and its relationship to eating disorders are discussed.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Clinical Psychology, v. 45, issue 3, p. 473-478