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Abstract

Body dissatisfaction (BD) has significant, negative impacts on general well being, and is a strong predictor of disordered eating behavior and eating disorders. BD, particularly in Western cultures, has become a nearly universal experience. Despite the fact that BD is extremely prevalent, there are few interventions designed specifically for the treatment of BD. Letter writing activities have become popular, both in clinical use and in popular media. However, to date, no research has been conducted to determine the effectiveness of letter writing activities for the treatment of BD. A handful of studies have examined the effectiveness of expressive writing, a paradigm closely related to letter writing, the results of which were inconclusive. This study seeks to examine the effectiveness of a letter-writing activity on self-reported BD in a community sample of college students.

64 male and female participants will be recruited from Introduction to Psychology classes, and will receive class credit for their participation (data collection is ongoing at the time of this submission). Participants will be randomly assigned to the experimental or control condition. Both groups will complete the Body Esteem Scale (BES; Franzoi & Shields, 1984), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RES; Rosenberg, 1965), and one of two letter-writing activities. Then they will re-complete the BES and RES. Finally, they will complete a short questionnaire in which they rate the emotionality of the experience. At a one-month follow-up, participants will re-complete the BES and RES. Experimental group participants will be instructed to write a letter to their body; whereas, control group participants will be asked to respond to a non-BD related prompt. The results of this study will provide useful information about the efficacy of letter writing interventions for BD among college students. In addition, the results may be used to inform clinical practice and community public health interventions.

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Apr 12th, 9:00 AM Apr 12th, 9:20 AM

The Effectiveness of a Letter-Writing Activity on Self-Reported Body Dissatisfaction

UC 330

Body dissatisfaction (BD) has significant, negative impacts on general well being, and is a strong predictor of disordered eating behavior and eating disorders. BD, particularly in Western cultures, has become a nearly universal experience. Despite the fact that BD is extremely prevalent, there are few interventions designed specifically for the treatment of BD. Letter writing activities have become popular, both in clinical use and in popular media. However, to date, no research has been conducted to determine the effectiveness of letter writing activities for the treatment of BD. A handful of studies have examined the effectiveness of expressive writing, a paradigm closely related to letter writing, the results of which were inconclusive. This study seeks to examine the effectiveness of a letter-writing activity on self-reported BD in a community sample of college students.

64 male and female participants will be recruited from Introduction to Psychology classes, and will receive class credit for their participation (data collection is ongoing at the time of this submission). Participants will be randomly assigned to the experimental or control condition. Both groups will complete the Body Esteem Scale (BES; Franzoi & Shields, 1984), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RES; Rosenberg, 1965), and one of two letter-writing activities. Then they will re-complete the BES and RES. Finally, they will complete a short questionnaire in which they rate the emotionality of the experience. At a one-month follow-up, participants will re-complete the BES and RES. Experimental group participants will be instructed to write a letter to their body; whereas, control group participants will be asked to respond to a non-BD related prompt. The results of this study will provide useful information about the efficacy of letter writing interventions for BD among college students. In addition, the results may be used to inform clinical practice and community public health interventions.