Sex Roles

, Volume 54, Issue 9–10, pp 727–731 | Cite as

Absorbing Society’s Influence: Body Image Self-Discrepancy and Internalized Shame

  • Gayle R. BessenoffEmail author
  • Daniel Snow
Original Article


In this study, we examined how injunctive cultural norms concerning body image are perceived by women, assessed the degree of body shame that occurs when an individual sees herself as differing from the cultural standard, and measured the extent to which the internalization of this standard as a personal ideal may influence the experience of body-related shame. Female college students (N = 687) completed measures of body shame and two types of body image self-discrepancy—actual:own ideal (AI) and actual:societal ought (ASO). Self-discrepancies were determined by subtracting participants' ideal and ought estimates from their actual body shape perception. AI was found to mediate the relationship between ASO and shame, which suggests that the internalization of body ideals may be an important antecedent to emotional consequences from cultural norms.


Self-discrepancy Social comparison Body shame 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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