Exposure to the thin beauty ideal : Are there subliminal priming effects?

Faculty/Professorship: University of Bamberg  ; Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy  
Author(s): Leins, Judith ; Waldorf, Manuel; Suchan, Boris; Diers, Martin; Herpertz, Stephan; Paslakis, Georgios ; Steins-Löber, Sabine  
Title of the Journal: International Journal of Eating Disorders
ISSN: 1098-108X
Publisher Information: New York, NY : Wiley
Year of publication: 2021
Volume: 54
Issue: 4
Pages: 506-515
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1002/eat.23461
URL: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/49837
Objective: Previous research suggested that exposure to the thin beauty ideal propagated by the media is associated with body dissatisfaction and the development of disordered eating. Given recent suggestions regarding the role of automatic processes, we aimed to enhance our understanding of automatic, unconscious responses to body pictures and the association with the internalization of the thin ideal and the severity of eating disorder symptoms.
Method: An affective priming task with body pictures of different weight as primes and a normal-weight body picture as target, which had to be evaluated with regard to attractiveness and desirability, was administered to healthy women with either subliminal prime presentation (Experiment 1) or conscious presentation (Experiment 2).
Results: Subliminal presentation did not affect the evaluation of the normal-weight tar-get, although strength of evaluative shifts was significantly associated with internalization of the thin ideal. In contrast, the conscious presentation of the ultra-thin prime decreased and of the obese prime increased desirability and attractiveness ratings of the target.
Discussion: Prevention strategies focusing on the critical evaluation of the thin ideal are important. Future studies are warranted to enhance our understanding of automatic, unconscious processes in women experiencing eating disorders.
Keywords: anorexia nervosa, automatic processes, eating disorders, subliminal priming
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Open Access Journal: Ja
Type: Article
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/50540
Release Date: 2. August 2021