The impact of different responses to negative body talk on body satisfaction, shame, and future negative body talk likelihood: A UK sample


A recent online experiment found that, following a negative body talk induction task, receiving a response of ignoring the comment, compared with reassuring, reciprocating, and challenging, led to worse body satisfaction and socio-emotional outcomes for Australian women. The current online study aimed to replicate and extend this study by examining the effects of these four negative body talk responses on body satisfaction, shame, and future negative body talk likelihood in UK-based women. Participants (N = 156, Mage = 25.29, SDage = 5.64, rangeage = 18–40) recalled a scenario in which they engaged in negative body talk and were randomly assigned to receive one of four responses. Contrary to hypotheses, there were no significant differences in body satisfaction, shame, or future negative body talk likelihood across the four groups. Preferred negative body talk response data were mixed, with challenge and reassurance responses preferred at comparable rates, and just under a quarter of participants preferring a response outside of the original four. Possible explanations, including that the responses used in the original Australasian study may not perfectly correspond with UK women’s experiences of social interactions and heterogeneous motivations for engaging in negative body talk necessitate more nuanced and sophisticated responses, are explored.

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