Fat or fiction? Effects of body size, eating pathology, and sex upon the body schema of an undergraduate population.

Sophie Wignall, Nicole Thomas, Michael Nicholls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although there is a growing consensus that women with anorexia nervosa have a distorted body schema, the origins of this disturbance remain uncertain. The present investigation examined the effects of body size, eating pathology, and sex upon the body schema of an at-risk, undergraduate population. In Study 1, 98 participants mentally simulated their passage through apertures. When aperture width was manipulated, narrow and broad women over- and under-estimated their spatial requirements for passage, respectively. This relationship was exacerbated by dietary restraint. When aperture height was manipulated, short and tall men over- and under-estimated their spatial requirements for passage, respectively. Study 2 (N = 32) replicated the association between women's veridical and internally-represented widths, although no significant effects of eating pathology were observed. Our findings suggest that body schema enlargement is not necessarily pathological, and may be driven by normal perceptual biases and internalised sociocultural body ideals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
JournalBody Image
Volume23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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