Does self-referent cognition act as a mediator between mood and body image
Taylor, Daniel Paul
Master of Arts
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
MetadataShow full item record
Depression and dysphoria have often been cited as emotional states that exacerbate both body size distortion and body dissatisfaction. The specific cause of this association has recently been the subject of empirical investigation. In fact, recent research suggests that women induced into a negative mood state report increased concern about their body image. The role of cognition, however, has not yet been specifically addressed by these investigations. The present study tested whether self-referent cognition acts as a mediator between subjective mood and body image evaluations. Eighty women were induced into either a positive or negative mood through brief exposure to either a self-referent or a non self-referent mood induction procedure (MIP). Self-evaluations for attitudinal and perceptual body image were examined for differential effects related to these MIPs. Results indicated that attitudinal body image self-evaluations and perceptual estimates of actual body size became more derogatory only after exposure to the negative MIP that was self-referent. Participants exposed to the positive self-referent MIP, as well as the negative non self-referent MIP, showed an overall unexpected trend toward improved self-evaluations on these measures. Participants who initially reported high self-esteem also showed a decrease in self-esteem after exposure to the negative self-referent MIP. These collective results support the cognitive priming perspective, which posits that cognitive sets, and not subjective mood per se, are responsible for the more negative self-evaluations reported after exposure to negative MIPs. The implications of the study’s findings for cognitive theories are discussed.