An experimental analysis of body checking.
Shafran R., Lee M., Payne E., Fairburn CG.
The relationship between repeated body checking and its impact on body size estimation and body dissatisfaction is of interest for two reasons. First, it has importance in theoretical accounts of the maintenance of eating disorders and, second, body checking is targeted in cognitive-behavioural treatment. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of manipulating body checking on body size estimation and body dissatisfaction. Sixty women were randomly assigned either to repeatedly scrutinize their bodies in a critical way in the mirror ("high body checking") or to refrain from body checking but to examine the whole of their bodies in a neutral way ("low body checking"). Body dissatisfaction, feelings of fatness and the strength of a particular self-critical thought increased immediately after the manipulation among those in the high body checking condition. Feelings of fatness decreased among those in the low body checking condition. These changes were short-lived. The manipulation did not effect estimations of body size or the discrepancy between estimations of body size and desired body size. The implications of these findings for understanding the influence of body checking on the maintenance of body dissatisfaction are considered.