Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

McLennan, Conor

Subject Headings

Body image, Leanness -- Psychological aspects, Eating disorders, Thin ideal priming, Stroop task, Body image, Eye-tracking


There is a substantial amount of empirical evidence in support of the claim that the thin ideal portrayed by the mass media leads to body image dissatisfaction. Furthermore, a disturbance in the perception of body image is an essential feature of eating disorders. The Stroop task has been adapted to provide a measure of selective processing for body image related words in eating disordered individuals. Building upon this previous work, the present study was designed to examine the effect of priming the thin ideal on the subsequent perception of body image related words in participants without an eating disorder. In both Experiments 1 and 2, half of the participants were primed by viewing slim female models, and half by viewing advertisements for gender-neutral shoes. In Experiment 1, all participants completed a Stroop task for three categories of stimuli: neutral words (BOOKS), shoe words (CLOGS), and body image words (THIGHS). It was hypothesized that the group primed with the thin ideal would exhibit delayed color-naming times for the body image words relative to the group primed with gender-neutral shoe ads. In Experiment 2, the eye-tracking paradigm was used to further investigate the hypothesized priming effect. In particular, this paradigm was chosen for its ability to provide fine-grained temporal information in order to examine how the predicted effect unfolds over time. It was hypothesized that participants primed by the thin ideal would spend more time fixating body image related distractor words relative to the group primed with gender-neutral shoe ads. The results demonstrate a pattern that is consistent with the predictions, but the analyses failed to reach significance. While the lack of findings is disappointing, it was encouraging to discover that the eye-tracking paradigm is a sound methodology for investigating information processing in studies with clinical implications. The results of this study encourage future research using the eye-tracking methodology for investigations of information-pr

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