Date of Graduation

Spring 2008


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Brooke Whisenhunt


Research indicates that women often use external cues to gauge how they feel about their bodies. In addition, women with high levels of concern about shape and weight tend to interpret ambiguous external cues in a negative way. Women's pant sizes can be considered ambiguous cues because measurements of same size pants vary significantly between manufacturers. The current study examined the impact pant size has on body image, self-esteem, and/or mood among women with differing levels of body concerns. Participants included 151 female undergraduate students at Missouri State University. Participants were randomly assigned to try on pants the same size as their self-reported size (Control), two sizes smaller than their self-report (Size Smaller), or two sizes larger than their self-report (Size Larger). The actual size of the pants was concealed with a tag showing the participant's self-reported size. While wearing the pants, participants completed measures of body image, self-esteem, and mood. Data analyses indicated women in the Size Smaller group endorsed significantly more negative body image and appearance-based self-esteem than did women in the Control and/or Size Larger Group. In addition, women with high levels of body dissatisfaction endorsed more negative body image, self-esteem, and mood than did women with average body dissatisfaction. No interaction between condition and level of body dissatisfaction was found, indicating that trying on pants that are expected to fit but that fit too tightly is a salient experience for women with even average levels of body dissatisfaction.


clothing size, external cues, body image, self-esteem, mood

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© Kerri J. Schafer

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