The Association Between Body Surveillance and Body Satisfaction Moderated by Self-Concept Clarity in Adult Women in the United States: A Cross-Sectional Study
Study Background: Eating disorders are associated with significant negative health outcomes for women. Body dissatisfaction is a primary risk factor for eating disorders in women and girls. Informed by objectification theory, this study investigated whether a) body surveillance was negatively associated with body satisfaction, and b) whether self-concept clarity moderated the association between body surveillance and body satisfaction in adult women. Self-concept clarity refers to holding a stable, consistent, and clear sense of self, while body surveillance refers to habitually monitoring the appearance of one’s body.
Methods: A cross-sectional, non-experimental, correlational design was employed in this study. Several well-established self-report measures were administered to adult women (n=230) online in the United States between the ages of 18 and 63 (M=34.13) who were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Results: Results of multiple regression analysis indicated that, when controlling for age and body mass index, body surveillance was negatively associated with body satisfaction, whereas selfconcept clarity was positively associated with body satisfaction. Results also evidenced that, when controlling for age and body mass index, self-concept clarity moderated the association between body surveillance and body satisfaction such that the negative association between body surveillance and body satisfaction was weaker among women who had high levels of self-concept clarity, as opposed to low self-concept clarity.
Conclusion: Being the first study to investigate self-concept clarity in the context of objectification theory, results are discussed in terms of how and why self-concept clarity might attenuate the association between body surveillance and body satisfaction. Echoing other researchers, integrating self-concept clarity into eating disorder and body image prevention programs in order to improve women’s health is discussed.