"Thinspiration" vs. "fear of fat". Using prototypes to predict frequent weight-loss dieting in females.Appetite. 2009 Feb; 52(1):217-21.A
This study examined whether frequent weight-loss dieting in females is predominantly a manifestation of being inspired to approach the cultural aesthetic thinness standard, or predominantly of a fear to avoid becoming over-fat. Female volunteers completed questionnaires concerning their perceptions of the prototypical over-fat and thin female, their dieting status and demographic data. Logistic regression analysis indicated that with increasing perceived similarity to the over-fat prototype, the more unfavourable this prototype was perceived to be, the greater the likelihood of engaging in frequent weight-loss dieting. However, similarity to, and the favourability of, the thin prototype did not predict frequent weight-loss dieting. These results suggest that frequent weight-loss dieting is primarily motivated by a desire to avoid an unfavourable over-fat identity, rather than by a desire to acquire the favourable thin identity. The potential consequences for future research and therapeutic interventions are discussed.