Sex Roles

, Volume 37, Issue 5–6, pp 433–439 | Cite as

Physique Contrast Effect: Adverse Impact of Idealized Body Images for Women

  • Bill Thornton
  • Jason Maurice


Adherence to an attractiveness ideal was considered as a possible mediator of a physique contrast effect among Caucasian women. Following exposure to photographs of models typifying idealized thin physiques, women displayed decreased self-esteem and increased self-consciousness, social physique anxiety, and body dissatisfaction. Although women with low adherence to an attractiveness ideal seemed to be advantaged by having greater self-esteem, less self-consciousness, and lower physique anxiety or dissatisfaction than their high adherence counterparts, these women did not display any unique resistance to the contrast effect. High affirmation of an attractiveness ideal was associated with exceptionally high potential for disordered eating. Eating disorder potential did not show influence of the contrast effect, but long-term implications were considered.


Social Psychology Body Image High Potential Eating Disorder Adverse Impact 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Thornton
    • 1
  • Jason Maurice
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern MainePortland
  2. 2.University of Southern MaineUSA

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