Mass media promote specified norms of attractiveness and the ideal female body and women can engage in certain behaviors, which in their opinion could help them to achieve this ideal body . Such behaviors may be attributable to comparing oneself to unrealistic ideals while depreciating one’s attractiveness, and include: a greater interest in nutrition, calorie counting, dieting, weight control methods, increased physical activity, excessive focus on body image, emotional lability related to eating and body perception, the desire to control one’s body dimensions and weight, high competitiveness and perfectionism, as well as the need for control (cf. [2,3,4]). The above symptoms were classified by Ziółkowska  as elements of anorexia readiness syndrome (ARS) defined as “a set of indicators in the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral spheres of functioning giving rise to suspicion of abnormality in meeting one’s nutritional needs and in one’s attitude to one’s body” (p. 37).
Substantial research on ARS has been devoted to the extent of this phenomenon among adolescent and adult people. Factors that may lead to body dissatisfaction and, in the long term, to eating disorders, include sociocultural factors (cf. [2, 5, 6]) and personality traits (cf. [4, 7, 8]). However, in previous investigations those factors were examined separately. The present study focused on sociocultural factors and personality traits jointly in order to determine significant ARS predictors.
Personality determinants of ARS
One of the personality models used in body image research is the Five-Factor Model , which consists of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and intellect/openness to experience [9,10,11]. Research into the Big Five  has revealed that various personality traits have been significant in explaining body dissatisfaction, and especially neuroticism was relevant [12, 13] that: (1) was associated with perceiving one’s own body as larger than it is objectively over time ; (2) predicted body image dissatisfaction in men and women ; (3) predicted investment in body image and self-consciousness of appearance ; (4) was linked to actual-ideal weight discrepancy ; (5) was useful in explaining emotions related to depression caused by ideal self-discrepancies ; (6) was associated with eating disorders and low self-esteem ; (7) was a significant risk factor for eating disorder symptoms .
The trait of neuroticism (vs. emotional stability) comprises emotional instability, oversensitivity, the tendency to experience negative emotions, adjustment and resilience to stress . Due to the tendency to experience negative emotions and dissatisfaction, neuroticism may be linked to negative body image (cf. ). Therefore, it would be worthwhile to examine the role of neuroticism in the development of ARS before the onset of a major eating disorder. Indeed, neuroticism appears to be a trait of special importance to disturbed body image, and ultimately to eating disorders (cf. [7, 12, 18]).
Sociocultural factors as determinants of ARS
Body image perception in women is determined by various factors, that could labeled as sociocultural factors, and include: the assimilation of media influence and the internalization of the media body ideal [13, 19], the family environment [4, 20, 21], peer pressure among youth [22, 23], and cultural influence .
Thompson and collaborators , who termed sociocultural factors attitudes, distinguished: (1) internalization; (2) pressures from sociocultural norms; (3) seeking information about body image. The attitudes adopted by people are affected by the mass media, which promote certain norms of physical attractiveness (cf. [25, 26]). In conjunction with some physical characteristics (e.g., BMI) and psychological factors (e.g., ideal self-discrepancies, personality traits), media plays an important role in one’s body image (cf. [1, 27]).
The internalization of the thin ideal contributes to postponing the satisfaction of basic needs (e.g., food) and lowers the awareness of one’s own body in women . The body ideal present in culture may affect body perception leading to objectification  and an instrumental attitude (using the body for attaining certain goals and benefits). According to the study of Młożniak and Schier , objectified body perceptions tend to be more severe in those who described their bodies as, e.g., a machine, instrument, or object .
The study of Izydorczyk and Rybicka-Klimczyk  showed that the mass media constitute an important source of information about beauty ideals for women. The subjects experienced pressure from sociocultural norms in connection to the female body image standards promoted by the media and internalized them to a significant extent. In their paper on ARS, Chytra-Gędek and Kobierecka  found that the key assessment criterion for women was being slim, which was associated with good looks, popularity, as well as being successful and attractive to men. Based on the responses given in the study, in the group of examined women, 6.5% of them were found to exhibit ARS (mostly in the dimension of attributing high value to body slimness) .
Sociocultural factors play a role not only in eliciting body dissatisfaction, but also in the development of eating disorders [6, 30,31,32], which may follow from persistent dissatisfaction with one’s looks, a critical evaluation of one’s appearance, and vulnerability to external influence (e.g., the mass media). Therefore, these factors should be examined in terms of their predictive value for ARS.
Body dissatisfaction as a determinant of ARS
Body image may be defined as an internalized belief about one’s appearance , including convictions about how one is perceived by others and the associated emotions (cf. ). The cognitive dimension of body image consists of individuals’ thoughts, beliefs, and cognitive patterns about their appearance. A negative perception may imply a lack of acceptance leading to adverse emotional states, excessive weight control, a tendency for perfectionism, and internalization of attractiveness standards [4, 5, 35, 36]. The cognitive sources of distorted body image are also investigated by neuroscience. Its affective element may be associated with changes in the prefrontal cortex, insula, and amygdala, with the perception component being linked to changes in the parietal lobe (cf. ).
Body dissatisfaction and negative emotional states often result from comparisons with the ideal [38,39,40] that is frequently and conspicuously presented in the mass media [41, 42]. Abnormal body image perceptions may be also attributable to depressive symptoms or major depression . Rzeszutek and Schier  reported that young adults with depressive symptoms tended to be more critical of their bodies. Body dissatisfaction may result from discrepancies between real perceptions of one’s body and of the body presented in the media and entails a higher risk of eating disorders . Hagman et al.  showed that patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) had a higher level of body dissatisfaction than healthy women and overestimated their body size more.
Therefore, if body dissatisfaction is associated with the risk of developing eating disorders, it seems reasonable to explore its role in predicting ARS.
The present study explored possible determinants of ARS among the variables described above, identified in the literature as the most important predictors of ARS. One can expect that (a) personality traits and especially neuroticism (cf. ), (b) sociocultural factors, and especially internalization and pressure (cf. ), and (c) body dissatisfaction (cf. ) are positively related to ARS. Moreover, a question has been asked which of these variables will significantly increase the prediction of ARS. According to the Five-Factor Theory, in the first step personality traits (basic tendencies) were included in the analysis and in the next steps sociocultural factors and body dissatisfaction (characteristic adaptations) were added .
Considering that the image of the human body in the mass media, which has major implications for the way women perceive their own bodies [41, 42, 46], and numerous findings pointing to the significant role of neuroticism in body image perception, hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted to find out whether the aforementioned categories of variables can be used to predict ARS.