Adverse effects of social pressure to be thin on young women: An experimental investigation of the effects of “fat talk”




Experiments have found that pressure to be thin from the media promotes body dissatisfaction and negative affect, but the effects of social pressure to be thin have not been examined experimentally. Thus, this study tested whether social pressure to be thin fosters body dissatisfaction and negative affect.


Young women (N = 120) were randomly assigned to a condition wherein an ultra-thin confederate complained about how fat she felt and voiced intentions to lose weight or a control condition wherein she discussed a neutral topic.


Exposure to social pressure to be thin resulted in increased body dissatisfaction but not negative affect. The effects were not moderated by initial thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, or social support.


Results support the assertion that peer pressure to be thin promotes body dissatisfaction but suggest that this factor may not contribute to negative affect. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 34: 108–117, 2003.