Women's perceptions of the outcome of weight loss diets: A Signal detection approach




Evolutionary psychology suggests that body shape is as important as body size and that, in women, certain body shapes are considered more attractive, specifically a waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of about 0.70. Research has shown that the WHR does not change as a result of weight loss diets although it may be that women who diet do not appreciate this. We hypothesized that women would report diet outcomes that included shape change. This was investigated using a signal detection paradigm.


Two groups of female participants (high and low WHRs) were presented with images with high and low WHRs and were asked to choose images they could resemble through dieting.


Both groups of women selected low WHR images as the outcome of their diets, supporting theories of evolutionary psychology.


We conclude that women in the high WHR group may find adherence to diets problematic because the desired change in shape does not occur. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 31: 339–343, 2002; DOI 10.1002/eat.10007