The Effects of Figure Size Feedback (Positive vs. Negative) and Target Comparison Group (Particularistic vs. Universalistic) on Body Image Disturbance

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The effect of negative versus positive informational feedback regarding body size on subjects' overall body dissatisfaction was assessed in female college students. The target of the appearance comparison was also manipulated–‐subjects' figure size was in comparison to a universalistic group (average USA citizen) or a particularistic sample (college student peers). The results revealed a main effect for target comparison group, but no influence of information type (positive vs. negative). Specifically, subjects' whose size feedback was in reference to a particularistic group evidenced greater body image anxiety and distress than subjects whose figures were compared to a universalistic target. The findings are discussed in light of social comparison theory (Festinger, L. [1954]. Human Relations, 7, 117–140) and the possible role of feedback, target group, and comparison processes (i.e., upward and downward comparisons).

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 12, issue 4, p. 441-448