Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Prevalence rates of pathological eating behaviors (PEB) and body dissatisfaction are high among college women, and rates are rising among college men. PEB and body dissatisfaction are also risk factors for the development of clinically significant eating disorders. Further, a lesser studied factor involved in male body dissatisfaction is drive for muscularity. With approximately 70% of college women and 45% of college men experiencing body dissatisfaction, it is important to identify its potential etiological and maintaining risk factors. One such mechanism may be the construct of attentional bias. Research suggests that individuals that engage in PEB or have high levels of body dissatisfaction exhibit an attentional bias toward negative body weight/shape and food cues. Attention retraining has been found to be effective in reducing attentional biases to threat among anxious populations. Therefore, these data suggest that retraining attention away from threatening body stimuli may help reduce body dissatisfaction, PEB, and drive for muscularity. The present study was the first to assess the effect of retraining attention away from threatening body stimuli on these variables in a population of college men and women. It was hypothesized that attention retraining would successfully reduce levels of body dissatisfaction, frequency of PEB, and drive for muscularity compared to a control attention paradigm. Participants were randomly assigned to either an attention retraining group or a control group. Results showed that attention retraining successfully reduced body dissatisfaction but only for women who had engaged in past-month PEB. Further, attention retraining did not reduce drive for muscularity in men.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Copeland, Amy



Included in

Psychology Commons