The effect of attentional bias toward shape- and weight-related information on body dissatisfaction




The objective of this study was to investigate the causal role of selective attention to shape/weight-related information in terms of intensifying body dissatisfaction.


The participants were 70 female first-year psychology students aged 17–28 years. An attentional probe task was used to induce attention toward either negative shape/weight-related words, neutral words, or negatively valenced emotion words. Thereafter vulnerability toward the development of body dissatisfaction was assessed in the three groups after being exposed to a body image challenge.


The induction of an attentional bias toward shape/weight-related information resulted in higher body dissatisfaction compared with both control groups.


The results support the notion that an attentional bias toward shape/weight-related information plays a causal role in body dissatisfaction, suggesting that such biases may prove to be a useful target in interventions designed to improve body image. © 2006 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2006