Skip to content

Research Papers On Body Image


Michaela M. Bucchianeri | Aimee J. Arikian | Peter J. Hannan | Marla E. Eisenberg | Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Given mixed findings regarding the unique trajectories of female and male adolescents' body dissatisfaction over time, comprehensive longitudinal examinations are needed. This 10-year longitudinal, population-based study, with 1902 participants from diverse ethnic/racial and socioeconomic backgrounds in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, examined changes in body dissatisfaction from adolescence to young adulthood. Results revealed that: (a) female and male participants' body dissatisfaction increased between middle and high school, (b) body dissatisfaction increased further during the transition to young adulthood, and (c) this increase was associated with an increase in BMI over time, such that the upward trend in body dissatisfaction became nonsignificant when BMI was controlled. These results highlight a trend in which diverse female and male youth are increasingly dissatisfied with their bodies as their BMI increases from middle school to young adulthood, and emphasize the need for targeted prevention efforts to intervene in this trajectory and mitigate potential harm. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Tracy L. Tylka | Nichole L. Wood-Barcalow

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Considered a positive body image measure, the 13-item Body Appreciation Scale (BAS; Avalos, Tylka, & Wood-Barcalow, 2005) assesses individuals' acceptance of, favorable opinions toward, and respect for their bodies. While the BAS has accrued psychometric support, we improved it by rewording certain BAS items (to eliminate sex-specific versions and body dissatisfaction-based language) and developing additional items based on positive body image research. In three studies, we examined the reworded, newly developed, and retained items to determine their psychometric properties among college and online community (Amazon Mechanical Turk) samples of 820 women and 767 men. After exploratory factor analysis, we retained 10 items (five original BAS items). Confirmatory factor analysis upheld the BAS-2's unidimensionality and invariance across sex and sample type. Its internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and construct (convergent, incremental, and discriminant) validity were supported. The BAS-2 is a psychometrically sound positive body image measure applicable for research and clinical settings.


Jasmine Fardouly | Phillippa C. Diedrichs | Lenny R. Vartanian | Emma Halliwell

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. The present study experimentally investigated the effect of Facebook usage on women's mood and body image, whether these effects differ from an online fashion magazine, and whether appearance comparison tendency moderates any of these effects. Female participants (. N=. 112) were randomly assigned to spend 10. min browsing their Facebook account, a magazine website, or an appearance-neutral control website before completing state measures of mood, body dissatisfaction, and appearance discrepancies (weight-related, and face, hair, and skin-related). Participants also completed a trait measure of appearance comparison tendency. Participants who spent time on Facebook reported being in a more negative mood than those who spent time on the control website. Furthermore, women high in appearance comparison tendency reported more facial, hair, and skin-related discrepancies after Facebook exposure than exposure to the control website. Given its popularity, more research is needed to better understand the impact that Facebook has on appearance concerns.


Zali Yager | Phillippa C. Diedrichs | Lina A. Ricciardelli | Emma Halliwell

Governments, schools, and curriculum authorities are increasingly recognizing that body image during adolescence is a public health issue that warrants attention in the school setting. After 30 years of eating disorder prevention research, and given the current interest in this area, it seems timely to review the research on interventions to improve body image in schools. We reviewed universal-selective, classroom-based programs that have been conducted since the year 2000, among adolescents, and found 16 eligible intervention programs. Seven of these programs were effective in improving body image on at least one measure, from pre to post test, though effect sizes were small (d = 0.22-0.48). These effective programs were conducted among younger adolescents 12.33-13.62 years, and included activities focusing on media literacy, self esteem, and the influence of peers. Implications for school personnel and curriculum authorities are discussed, and we provide recommendations for a strategic approach to future research in this area. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Jasmine Fardouly | Lenny R. Vartanian

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Use of social media, such as Facebook, is pervasive among young women. Body dissatisfaction is also highly prevalent in this demographic. The present study examined the relationship between Facebook usage and body image concerns among female university students (N= 227), and tested whether appearance comparisons on Facebook in general, or comparisons to specific female target groups (family members, close friends, distant peers [women one may know but do not regularly socialize with], celebrities) mediated this relationship. Results showed a positive relationship between Facebook usage and body image concerns, which was mediated by appearance comparisons in general, frequency of comparisons to close friends and distant peers, and by upward comparisons (judging one's own appearance to be worse) to distant peers and celebrities. Thus, young women who spend more time on Facebook may feel more concerned about their body because they compare their appearance to others (especially to peers) on Facebook.


Marika Tiggemann | Alice McCourt

The major aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of age on positive body image (operationalized as body appreciation) across the female lifespan. A secondary aim was to examine the effect of age on the relationship between positive body image and body satisfaction. Participants were 158 women aged between 18 and 75 years who completed questionnaire measures of body appreciation and body dissatisfaction-satisfaction. A significant positive linear relationship was found between age and body appreciation; that is, older women had higher levels of body appreciation than their younger counterparts. Although body appreciation was positively correlated with body dissatisfaction-satisfaction across all age groups, the association was weaker for older women. The results contribute to a richer picture of women's body image across the lifespan, as well as confirming positive body image as something beyond the mere absence of body dissatisfaction. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Jennifer B. Webb | Nichole L. Wood-Barcalow | Tracy L. Tylka

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Empirical and clinical interest in positive body image has burgeoned in recent years. This focused attention is generating various measures and methods for researchers and psychotherapists to assess an array of positive body image constructs in populations of interest. No resource to date has integrated the available measures and methods for easy accessibility and comparison. Therefore, this article reviews contemporary scales for the following positive body image constructs: body appreciation, positive rational acceptance, body image flexibility, body functionality, attunement (body responsiveness, mindful self-care), positive/self-accepting body talk, body pride, body sanctification, broad conceptualization of beauty, and self-perceived body acceptance by others. Guidelines for the qualitative assessment of positive body image and recommendations for integrating positive body image assessment within psychotherapy and applied research settings are also offered. The article concludes with articulating broad future directions for positive body image assessment, including ideas for expanding its available measures, methods, and dynamic expressions.


Tracy L. Tylka | Nichole L. Wood-Barcalow

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. A decade ago, research on positive body image as a unique construct was relatively nonexistent, and now this area is flourishing. How and why did positive body image scholarship emerge? What is known about this contemporary construct? This article situates and contextualizes positive body image within Cash's scholarship, eating disorder prevention efforts, feminist influences, strength-based disciplines within psychology, and Buddhism. Extracting insights from quantitative and qualitative research, this article demonstrates that positive body image is (a) distinct from negative body image; (b) multifaceted (including body appreciation, body acceptance/love, conceptualizing beauty broadly, adaptive investment in appearance, inner positivity, interpreting information in a body-protective manner); (c) holistic; (d) stable and malleable; (e) protective; (f) linked to self-perceived body acceptance by others; and (g) shaped by social identities. Complementing what positive body image is, this article further details what positive body image is not to provide a more nuanced understanding of this construct.


Marika Tiggemann | Mia Zaccardo

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Fitspiration is an online trend designed to inspire viewers towards a healthier lifestyle by promoting exercise and healthy food. The present study aimed to experimentally investigate the impact of fitspiration images on women's body image. Participants were 130 female undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to view either a set of Instagram fitspiration images or a control set of travel images presented on an iPad. Results showed that acute exposure to fitspiration images led to increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction and decreased state appearance self-esteem relative to travel images. Importantly, regression analyses showed that the effects of image type were mediated by state appearance comparison. Thus it was concluded that fitspiration can have negative unintended consequences for body image. The results offer support to general sociocultural models of media effects on body image, and extend these to "new" media.


Bryan T. Karazsia | Manfred H.M. van Dulmen | Kendal Wong | Janis H. Crowther

Internalization of societal standards of physical attractiveness (i.e., internalization of the thin ideal for women and internalization of the mesomorphic ideal for men) is a widely studied and robust risk factor for body dissatisfaction and maladaptive body change behaviors. Substantial empirical research supports internalization as both a mediator and a moderator of the relation between societal influences and body dissatisfaction. In this paper, a primer on mediation and moderation is followed by a review of literature and discussion of the extent to which internalization can theoretically fulfill the roles of both mediation and moderation. The literature review revealed a stark contrast in research design (experimental versus non-experimental design) when alternate conceptualizations of internalization are adopted. A meta-theoretical, moderated mediation model is presented. This model integrates previous research and can inform future empirical and clinical endeavors. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Marika Tiggemann | Amy Slater | Belinda Bury | Kimberley Hawkins | Bonny Firth

Recent proposals across a number of Western countries have suggested that idealised media images should carry some sort of disclaimer informing readers when these images have been digitally enhanced. The present studies aimed to experimentally investigate the impact on women's body dissatisfaction of the addition of such warning labels to fashion magazine advertisements. Participants were 120 and 114 female undergraduate students in Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 respectively. In both experiments, participants viewed fashion magazine advertisements with either no warning label, a generic warning label, or a specific more detailed warning label. In neither experiment was there a significant effect of type of label. However, state appearance comparison was found to predict change in body dissatisfaction irrespective of condition. Unexpectedly, trait appearance comparison moderated the effect of label on body dissatisfaction, such that for women high on trait appearance comparison, exposure to specific warning labels actually resulted in increased body dissatisfaction. In sum, the present results showed no benefit of warning labels in ameliorating the known negative effect of viewing thin-ideal media images, and even suggested that one form of warning (specific) might be harmful for some individuals. Accordingly, it was concluded that more extensive research is required to guide the most effective use of disclaimer labels. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Emma Halliwell

This article examines whether positive body image can protect women from negative media exposure effects. University women (N=112) were randomly allocated to view advertisements featuring ultra-thin models or control images. Women who reported high levels of body appreciation did not report negative media exposure effects. Furthermore, the protective role of body appreciation was also evident among women known to be vulnerable to media exposure. Women high on thin-ideal internalization and low on body appreciation reported appearance-discrepancies that were more salient and larger when they viewed models compared to the control group. However, women high on thin-ideal internalization and also high on body appreciation rated appearance-discrepancies as less important and no difference in size than the control group. The results support the notion that positive body image protects women from negative environmental appearance messages and suggests that promoting positive body image may be an effective intervention strategy. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Siân A. McLean | Susan J. Paxton | Eleanor H. Wertheim

This study examined in young adolescent girls the fit of a theoretical model of the contribution of media literacy to body dissatisfaction via the mediating influences of internalisation of media ideals and appearance comparisons. Female Grade 7 students (N = 469) completed self-report assessments of media literacy, internalisation, appearance comparisons, body dissatisfaction, and media exposure. Strong, significant inverse associations between media literacy and body dissatisfaction, internalisation, and appearance comparisons were observed. Path analysis revealed that a slightly modified revision of the model provided a good fit to the data. Specifically, body dissatisfaction was influenced directly by appearance comparisons, internalisation, and body mass index, and indirectly by media literacy and media exposure. Indirect pathways were mediated by appearance comparisons and internalisation. Thus, a relationship between media literacy and eating disorder risk factors was observed. Findings may explain positive outcomes of media literacy interventions in eating disorder prevention. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Grace Holland | Marika Tiggemann

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. A large body of literature has demonstrated mass media effects on body image and disordered eating. More recently, research in this area has turned to 'new' forms of media, such as the Internet, and particularly Social Networking Sites (SNSs). A systematic search for peer-reviewed articles on SNS use and body image and eating disorders resulted in 20 studies meeting specific inclusion criteria. As a whole, these articles demonstrated that use of SNSs is associated with body image and disordered eating. Specific SNS activities, such as viewing and uploading photos and seeking negative feedback via status updates, were identified as particularly problematic. A small number of studies also addressed underlying processes and found that appearance-based social comparison mediated the relationship between SNS use and body image and eating concerns. Gender was not found to be a moderating factor. It was concluded that, although there is a good deal of correlational research supporting the maladaptive effect of SNS use on body image and disordered eating, more longitudinal and experimental studies are needed.


Lenny R. Vartanian | Shanta Dey

This study examined predictors of body dissatisfaction among women."Thin-ideal internalization mediated the link between appearance comparisons and body dissatisfaction."Self-concept clarity was negatively correlated with thin-ideal internalization and appearance comparisons."Thin-ideal internalization mediated the link between self-concept clarity and body dissatisfaction. This study examined the associations among self-concept clarity, thin-ideal internalization, appearance-related social comparison tendencies, and body dissatisfaction. Female university students (N=278) completed self-report measures of these constructs. Structural equation modeling revealed several key findings: (a) thin-ideal internalization mediated the link between appearance-related social comparison tendencies and body dissatisfaction; (b) self-concept clarity was negatively associated with both thin-ideal internalization and appearance-related social comparison tendencies; and (c) thin-ideal internalization mediated the link between self-concept clarity and body dissatisfaction. These findings suggest that low self-concept clarity might contribute to body image problems because it increases women's vulnerability to thin-ideal internalization and appearance-related social comparison tendencies. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Niva Piran

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Delineating positive psychological processes in inhabiting the body, as well as quantitative measures to assess them, can facilitate progress in the field of prevention of eating disorders by expanding outcome evaluation of prevention interventions, identifying novel mediators of change, and increasing highly needed research into protective factors. Moreover, enhancing positive ways of inhabiting the body may contribute toward the maintenance of gains of prevention interventions. Integrated social etiological models to eating disorders that focus on gender and other social variables, such as the Developmental Theory of Embodiment (Piran & Teall, 2012a), can contribute to positive body image intervention development and research within the prevention field. Using the Developmental Theory of Embodiment as a lens, this article explores whether existing prevention programs (i.e., Cognitive Dissonance and Media Smart) may already work to promote positive body image, and whether prevention programs need to be expanded toward this goal.


Emma L. Bird | Emma Halliwell | Phillippa C. Diedrichs | Diana Harcourt

This study evaluated an adapted version of 'Happy Being Me', a school-based body image intervention, with girls and boys aged 10-11 years. Forty-three children participated in a three-week intervention, and 45 children formed a control group. Both groups completed measures of body satisfaction, risk factors for negative body image, eating behaviors, self-esteem, and intervention topic knowledge, at baseline, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up. For girls, participation in the intervention resulted in significant improvements in body satisfaction, appearance-related conversations, appearance comparisons, eating behaviors and intervention topic knowledge at post-intervention, although only the change in body satisfaction was maintained. There was also a significant decrease in internalization of cultural appearance ideals from baseline to follow-up. For boys, participation in the intervention resulted in significant improvements in internalization and appearance comparisons at post-intervention; however, neither of these changes were sustained at follow-up. There were no improvements in the control group over time. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Elizabeth H. Evans | Martin J. Tovée | Lynda G. Boothroyd | Robert F. Drewett

We examined the sociocultural model of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitude development in young girls for the first time. According to the model, internalizing an unrealistically thin ideal body increases the risk of disordered eating via body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and depression. Girls aged 7-11 years (N=127) completed measures of thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, dieting, depression, and disordered eating attitudes. Participants' height and weight were measured and their body mass index calculated. Thin-ideal internalization predicted disordered eating attitudes indirectly via body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and depression; it also predicted disordered eating attitudes directly. Path analyses showed that a revised sociocultural model fit well with the data. These data show that a sociocultural framework for understanding disordered eating and body dissatisfaction in adults is useful, with minor modifications, in understanding the development of related attitudes in young girls. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Rebecca L. Pearl | Rebecca M. Puhl

The purpose of this research was to validate a modified version of the Weight Bias Internalization Scale (WBIS-M) that is applicable to individuals across different body weight statuses. One hundred forty-eight men and women completed an online survey that included the WBIS-M and relevant measures of psychopathology. Results indicated that the WBIS-M had high internal consistency and strong construct validity. The WBIS-M also demonstrated significant correlations with body image, eating pathology, self-esteem, and symptoms of anxiety and depression, and was associated with these outcomes distinctly from antifat attitudes and body mass index. Implications for the use of this scale in diverse samples are discussed. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Kristin J. Homan | Tracy L. Tylka

Background Reading:

It's important to begin your research learning something about your subject; in fact, you won't be able to create a focused, manageable thesis unless you already know something about your topic.

This step is important so that you will:

  • Begin building your core knowledge about your topic
  • Be able to put your topic in context
  • Create research questions that drive your search for information
  • Create a list of search terms that will help you find relevant information
  • Know if the information you’re finding is relevant and useful

If you're working from off campus, you'll need to sign in. Once you click on the name of a database, simply enter your student ID (without the W) and your six-digit birth date.

Top Picks:

All of these resources are free for MJC students, faculty, & staff. 

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    Use this collection of full-text, authoritative encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for research on a wide variety of topics
  • Films on Demand
    Type your search term into the search box in our film database to find short video clips suitable for academic research.