Thesis Title

Implicit Body Concerns in Young Women

Date of Graduation

Spring 2007


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Chantal Levesque


explicit, implicit, eating disorders, body satisfaction, self-report, Implicit Association Task

Subject Categories



The current screening methods used to detect body dissatisfaction and other symptoms of disordered eating assess explicit or conscious thought, making it easy for individuals to underreport or hide their body/food concerns. Therefore it could be useful to supplement these self-report measures with measures that assess implicit or unconscious thoughts regarding disordered eating and body dissatisfaction. The use of implicit measures would make it more difficult to fake one's responses on the measure and render the measure less transparent. This would reduce the ability to lie or underreport symptoms and in turn, increase detection accuracy. Three Implicit Association Tasks (IATs) were created in an attempt to implicitly measure symptoms of disordered eating (IAT-ED food/calorie, IAT-ED body shape, and IAT-ED body satisfaction). Two studies were conducted to validate and evaluate the effectiveness of the IAT-EDs. College women were given the three IAT-ED tasks along with a packet of explicit self-report questionnaires related to disordered eating. In both studies, women were found to implicitly associate the self with low calorie foods, body satisfaction, and thinness. In Study 1, the BSQ was marginally correlated with the IAT-ED food/calorie. In Study 2 the BSQ was marginally correlated with the IAT-ED body satisfaction. Both the IAT-ED food calorie (Study 1) and body satisfaction (Study 2) were able to discriminate between women with high versus average BSQ scores. With IAT-ED food/calorie, women with high BSQ scores had larger food/calorie effects indicating that women with more symptoms of disordered eating associated more with to low calorie foods. With the IAT-ED body satisfaction, women with high BSQ scores had lower body body satisfaction effects meaning that women with more body dysphoria were in fact less satisfied with their bodies according to the BSQ. These findings lend some suggestive evidence to support the validity of these IAT-EDs, but because the results were not consistent across studies the validity of the IAT-EDs is questionable.


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