This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Body Discrepancy and Body Satisfaction: Influence on Approach and Avoidance Behaviors and Emotions




Helm, Sarah

Type of Degree



Consumer Affairs


Western culture’s concept of the ideal body is unattainable for the majority of women, yet it is constantly being projected to women as the goal for which to strive. However, this unattainable ideal creates a discrepancy between the body that women have and the one they wish to have or feel they ought to have, which leads to certain experienced emotions and behaviors. The objective of this study was to examine the influence of body discrepancies, specifically the actual/ideal and actual/ought from both the self standpoint and the significant other standpoint, and body satisfaction and their influence on depression, anxiety, and approach and avoidance behaviors. Higgins (1987) Self-Discrepancy Theory provided the framework for the hypotheses. It was hypothesized that actual/ideal discrepancies would influence depression and approach behaviors and actual/ought discrepancies would influence anxiety and avoidance behaviors. Research questions explored the influence of body satisfaction on both depression and anxiety as well as approach and avoidance behaviors. A pilot and main study were conducted. For the main study, a survey invitation and link were emailed to a sample consisting of 2250 randomly selected Auburn University undergraduate females. The response rate was 7% resulting in 144 usable responses. Respondents to the questionnaire remained anonymous. The instruments used for the questionnaire consisted of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS), Body Image Coping Strategies Inventory (BICSI), Body Satisfaction Scale (BSS), and altered version of the Body Image ideals Questionnaire (BIQ). Simple linear regression analysis was used to test each hypothesis and additional analyses were done using multiple regression analysis. The results show that all the hypotheses were supported. Actual/ideal body discrepancies from both the self standpoint and the significant other standpoint positively influenced depression and approach behaviors. Actual/ought body discrepancies from the self standpoint and the significant other standpoint positively influenced anxiety and avoidance behaviors. Results also show that body satisfaction negatively influenced both anxiety and depression and negatively influenced approach and avoidance behaviors.