Effects of body shame on poor health decisions: The mediating role of body responsiveness

  • Jean M. LamontEmail author


Body shame predicts decisions to engage in appearance-improving behaviors that compromise health, suggesting that body shame may promote the devaluing of health in service of appearance. Furthermore, body shame may drive such decisions by diminishing body responsiveness, or the valuing of health-related bodily functions. Two studies tested these ideas in undergraduate students. In Study 1 (cross-sectional), trait body shame predicted decisions to improve appearance at the expense of health, and low body responsiveness mediated this relationship, controlling for BMI and gender. In Study 2 (experimental), body shame was induced and state body shame, state body responsiveness, and the same poor health decisions were measured. State body shame and diminished state body responsiveness mediated the relationship between experimental condition and poor health decisions, controlling for trait body shame, BMI, and gender. These studies demonstrate that body shame may promote the devaluing of health via the mechanism of diminished body responsiveness.


Body shame Body responsiveness Health decisions Gender BMI 



Research conducted by Jean M. Lamont, PhD, Department of Psychology, Bellarmine University. The study reported herein was approved by Bellarmine’s IRB and all participants provided informed consent prior to participation. Dr. Lamont declares that she has no conflict of interest. Special thanks to Amelia Roberts, McKenzie Prince, Kathleen Wagner, Gina D’Amato, and Kayle Wilson for their assistance with data collection on this project. The data sets used in the current study are available at the Center for Open Science’s Open Science Framework, DOI, with information that could reasonably identify participants (ethnicity, age, birthdate) removed for privacy.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBellarmine UniversityLouisvilleUSA

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