A diary study of appearance social comparisons and need frustration in young women
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The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of state upward appearance comparisons and psychological need frustration on appearance self-conscious emotions, and compensatory dieting and exercise thoughts and behaviours. An Ecological Momentary Assessment design was employed with young women (n = 126; M age = 21.26; SD = 2.76) who responded to surveys 3 times daily every other day for 1 week. Outcome measures included body and appearance self-conscious emotions (shame, guilt, and authentic and hubristic pride) and (thoughts of) dietary restriction and exercise. Mixed linear modelling showed that upward appearance comparisons and psychological need frustration independently predicted several maladaptive appearance-based emotions and behaviours. For thoughts of dietary restriction, an interaction emerged, whereby thoughts of dietary restriction were intensified in situations when participants engaged in upward appearance comparisons and reported high levels of need frustration. The findings suggest that not only upward appearance comparisons but also high levels of state need frustration can make women more vulnerable to self-conscious emotions and compensatory dieting and exercise thoughts and behaviours.
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