Body dissatisfaction is associated with deficiencies in the generation of physiological correlates of emotions.
Department of Psychology, University of Jaén, Jaén, Spain.
Background and aims: It has previously shown dissociation between self-report and psychophysiological measures in high body dissatisfaction (HBD) women exposed to their bodies in a mirror: compared to low body dissatisfaction (LBD) women, HBD women present more negative emotions but reduced physiological reactions in terms of heart rate (HR) and skin conductance (SC). The present study examined the relationship between self-report and psychophysiological responses in women with HBD and LBD exposed to their own bodies in a mirror.
Method: Forty-two women (21 HBD and 21 LBD), were confronted with their own body during four 5-min trials in which participants were instructed to focus their attention on different parts of their body. Emotional (VAS) and cognitive (Thought Check List) measures were taken after each exposure trial. HR and SC were recorded continuously.
Results: HBD women experienced more negative emotions and cognitions following body exposure compared to LBD women but a reduced physiological reaction. In LBD extent of negative emotions (VAS scores) for Ugly, Anger, Insecurity, and Fear, as well as negative cognitions, were positively associated with HR, while VAS scores on Sadness were positively associated with SC levels. No such associations were observed in HBD women, where trends towards negative correlations were observed.
Conclusion: These results suggest deficiencies in the generation of physiological correlates of emotion related to body dissatisfaction. This is coherent with the existence of a passive-behavioral inhibited coping style in HBD women.
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