A Preliminary Test of Two Hypotheses of body Image Disturbance

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The present study compared the ability of two hypotheses of body image disturbance, social comparison and negative verbal commentary (teasing), to explain variance associated with body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance. Female undergraduates (n = 146) completed measures of eating disturbance, body dissatisfaction, self‐esteem, depression, history of being teased about physical appearance, frequency of appearance comparison, and importance of various individuals as appearance comparison targets. Utilizing multiple regression analyses, levels of self‐esteem and depression were first entered to remove a general distress/ negative affectivity variable from the analyses. The results indicated that specific teasing about weight/size, but not general appearance, was a significant and consistent predictor of body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance. In addition, the importance of others as comparison targets, but not general comparison frequency, also predicted unique variance after the removal of the general distress factor. The findings are discussed with regard to the need for longitudinal analyses of predictors of body image and eating disturbance, particularly the possible importance of negative verbal commentary as a developmental precursor to adult levels of dysfunction.

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International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 14, issue 1, p. 59-64