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Body language: affecting body satisfaction by describing the body in functionality terms

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Abstract

With the current studies, we aimed to improve body satisfaction by inducing a functionality-based focus on the body. Objectification theory was used as a guiding framework for this approach. In Study 1, 59 female and 59 male undergraduates and, in Study 2, 118 women between the ages of 30 and 50 years completed a writing assignment to experimentally manipulate their body focus. The writing assignment instructions were to describe what one's body can do (functionality focus) or what one's body looks like (appearance focus); a control writing task was also included. Functionality and appearance satisfaction, as well as global self-esteem, were measured at baseline, on test-day, and at a 1-week follow-up. In Study 1, male undergraduates in the functionality condition experienced an increase in functionality satisfaction from baseline to test-day; female undergraduates in the appearance condition experienced a decrease in functionality satisfaction both from baseline to test-day and from baseline to follow-up. In Study 2, women in the functionality condition experienced an increase in functionality satisfaction from baseline to follow-up. The current studies are the first known to experimentally manipulate the functionality-based approach to the body and to investigate its effects on body image-serving to suggest perceived functionality as a potentially fruitful focus for further research and intervention.

    Research areas

  • body image, objectification, functionality, instrumentality, physical appearance, body awareness, age differences, self-esteem, DISORDER EXAMINATION-QUESTIONNAIRE, ROSENBERG SELF-ESTEEM, EATING-DISORDERS, PSYCHOMETRIC EVALUATION, SEXUAL OBJECTIFICATION, GENDER-DIFFERENCES, IMAGE, WOMEN, DISSATISFACTION, EXPERIENCES
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-196
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014