Body Image, Teasing, and Mood Alterations: An Experimental Study of Exposure to Negative Verbal Commentary

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body satisfaction, teasing, mood alteration, eating disturbances

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Objective: In the current study, we sought to experimentally examine the influence of teasing on an individual's mood and body satisfaction by using a vicarious exposure strategy—written appearance‐based scenarios in which another female is the target of teasing comments.

Method: Female college students read vignettes that involved either a female receiving a comment from another person regarding some aspect of her appearance or abilities. Two of the eight vignettes in both conditions involved some type of positive comment regarding appearance or abilities. Three visual analogue scales (depression, anger, anxiety), one Subjective Units of Discomfort rating, and one Likert‐scaled appearance satisfaction rating were used to assess mood and body image levels consequent to exposure to the written scenarios. Dispositional measures of personal teasing history, appearance evaluation, and level of eating disturbance were regressed onto mood, SUDS, and satisfaction ratings.

Result : The results revealed that negative appearance and abilities scenes elicited moderate levels of mood disturbance when compared to positive vignettes. Regression analyses indicated that level of eating disturbance was the only consistent significant predictor for both appearance and abilities' scenarios, even after variance accounted for by empathy and self‐esteem had been removed.

Discussion: Potential limitations of these findings are discussed along with indications for future experimental examinations of negative verbal commentary.

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International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 32, issue 4, p. 449-457