A new ecologically valid method to assess body size estimation and body size dissatisfaction.
Shafran R., Fairburn CG.
OBJECTIVE: The primary aim of the present study was to develop an ecologically valid method for assessing the perception of body size (as opposed to the memory of body size). METHOD: Women with clinical eating disorders (N = 14) and no eating disorder (N = 24) estimated their actual and desired body size while looking in a mirror. Estimations were made using projected images that were the same height as the participants' reflections in the mirror. RESULTS: This new method assessed the perception of body size under conditions that resembled the real-life situation of viewing oneself in a mirror. Participants with eating disorders significantly overestimated their body size relative to controls (p <.05) and tended to be more dissatisfied with their body size (p =.07). DISCUSSION: It is argued that the new method assesses the perception of body size, is ecologically valid, and is the most clinically relevant of the methods developed to date.