The motivation to diet in young women: Fear is stronger than hope


Simon E. Dalley, Department of Social Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands.



This research examined the relative impact of a hoped-for, thin body and a feared, overweight body on weight-loss dieting (WLD) motivation. We hypothesised that the women most motivated to engage in WLD would report a higher similarity to, and a higher cognitive availability of, a feared, overweight body. In study 1, WLD motivation was operationalized as WLD intention and in study 2 as a food choice (chocolate bar versus low-fat snack bar). As expected, those most similar to the feared body and who had a highly available overweight body had the greatest intention to engage in WLD, and were more likely to choose a low-fat snack over a chocolate bar. The implications of our findings for future research as well as the development of eating pathology in college women are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.