Research Spotlight: How does “body talk” affect our self-image?

One way that people’s body dissatisfaction is socially expressed is through engaging in negative conversations with friends regarding how unhappy they are with their bodies.

Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating are significant problems among women in the United States (Fallon, Harris, & Johnson, 2014). One way that people’s body dissatisfaction is socially expressed is through engaging in negative conversations with friends regarding how unhappy they are with their bodies. Professor of Psychology Dr. Linda Lin’s research aims to better understand the causes of poor body image so effective treatments can be developed to prevent related disorders. Noting the limitations in instruments designed to measure “body talk” Dr. Lin and fellow researchers developed a 14-item Body Talk Scale to measure both positive and negative body talk in men and women—the results of which were publishing in prominent journal, Body Image, in 2021.

Working with psychology major Kate Del Torchio ’22, Dr. Lin is examining the prevalence of fat talk, muscle talk and positive body talk in both in-person and online conversations, and whether this type of conversation relates to eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia development.   

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