The Body Project: A Narrative and Social Network Analysis

Arkin, Nora, Clinical Psychology - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Tolan, Patrick, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This dissertation explored the impact of a body acceptance intervention program, The Body Project (Stice, Shaw, Burton, & Wade, 2006) and sought to describe the processes of such impact and to describe hypothesized indirect intervention effects on the friends of participants using a sample of college females. Intervention participant interview and survey data were utilized to attempt to replicate findings from past trials of the Body Project and to apply mixed methods to summarize participants’ experiences prior to, during, and after the intervention. Intervention participants’ peers provided data to describe potential impact of the intervention on peers of participants. Beneficial intervention effects found in previous evaluations were replicated in the current study with the intervention reducing expressed fat talk concerns, dieting/restrained eating, and thin ideal internalization, and increasing body satisfaction. Participants’ narratives portrayed complex relations between body image, food orientation, self-other comparison, and presentational concerns, and discussed ways in which body image was impacted by relationships or relational motivations and concerns. Personal narratives shifted for most participants after undergoing the intervention demonstrating reductions in tensions related to body, food, and exercise. Peers demonstrated a significant change in self-reported dietary restraint during the course of their friend’s participation in the intervention. Peer initial survey and change scores of fat talk, dieting/restrained eating, thin ideal internalization, and body satisfaction were not correlated with participant baseline survey scores or participant survey score change variables. Intervention recommendations are provided based on participant feedback and quantitative and qualitative findings.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
body image, fat talk, thin ideal, beauty ideal, peers, college students, body satisfaction, mixed methods, intervention, prevention, eating disorders, women, body dissatisfaction, qualitative, relationships
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