Date of Graduation

Spring 2012


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Danae Hudson


body tracing, body dissatisfaction, mood, body image, treatment, eating disorders

Subject Categories



Body image disturbance and dissatisfaction are core symptoms in eating disorder patients. A body tracing activity is often used in treatment programs to address body dissatisfaction and overestimation of body size. While there is an assumption that this activity is therapeutic, the actual effects have never been empirically evaluated. The current study examined the effects of a body tracing activity on individuals' level of body dissatisfaction and mood. Female participants (n = 62) were assigned to one of three groups: body trace only, social comparison, or control group. Scores were collected on a series of Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) in addition to a variety of body image and mood measures. Between-subjects analyses suggested no significant differences between groups on body image, mood, and internalization of the thin ideal. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a significant difference on the Depression VAS, F(2,59) = 4.66, p < 0.05., with Tukey's post-hoc analyses indicating a significant increase (p < 0.05) in state levels of depression between the body trace only and control conditions. With respect to the body trace only group, dependent t-tests revealed significant differences among the overall appearance dissatisfaction, physical fitness, depression, and self-confidence VAS (p's < 0.05). These preliminary results suggest that participants engaging in a body tracing activity may experience some distress in response to the emphasis on their body shape.


© Gail Ann Williams

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