A Randomized Controlled Study of Writing Interventions on College Women’s Positive Body Image
College women are at risk for body dissatisfaction, but enhancing the positive aspects of body image can serve as a protective factor. Self-compassion has been associated with body appreciation and may protect against negative body image. This study tested the effect of a self-compassion writing intervention on positive body image and affect and explored self-compassion as a mediator between writing group and positive body image. We used a randomized controlled design to compare self-compassion writing (n = 51), traditional expressive writing (n = 50), and control writing (n = 51) interventions in college women. Participants were mostly European-American (82%) with a mean age of 19. Participants wrote online for 20 min once a week for three consecutive weeks. Results indicated that negative and positive affect decreased for all three groups. There were no differences between groups on positive body image or affect; however, the self-compassion writing group reported greater increases in self-compassion (F = 3.48, p < 0.05, ηp2 = 0.05). Moreover, mediator models revealed that the effect of group (self-compassion vs. traditional/control writing) on body appreciation and body image quality of life was mediated by self-compassion. Overall, the findings indicate that self-compassion writing increased self-compassion, and greater increases in self-compassion were associated with greater increases in positive body image and positive affect.
KeywordsSelf-compassion Body image Body appreciation Body image quality of life Expressive writing College women
KSZ: co-designed and implemented the study, assisted with the data analyses, and collaborated in the writing of the paper. BRL: managed participant data/study completion, analyzed the data and collaborated with the writing of the paper. TLRB: co-designed and implemented the study, and collaborated in the writing of the study. CKS: collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.
This study was funded by the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education Flowback Grant.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Virginia Tech University and Towson University.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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