Measuring thinspiration and fear of fat indirectly. A matter of approach and avoidance.Appetite. 2011 Apr; 56(2):451-5.A
The concepts thinspiration and fear of fat are crucial regarding the development and maintenance of body image disturbances and eating pathology. This study aimed to advance our current understanding of these two motivational concepts. Unlike previous studies that have primarily relied on self report measures to investigate thinspiration and fear of fat, we applied an indirect measure, namely a Stimulus Response Compatibility (SRC) task. During our SRC task, undergraduate female students were instructed to symbolically approach and avoid pictures of thin and chubby models. Hence, the participants' reaction times during the SRC task provided an index of the automatic affective and motivational valence of the models. Results showed that participants were faster to approach than to avoid thin models, however, there was no difference in approach-avoidance responses regarding chubby models. Analyses revealed that the approach-avoidance responses were related to important eating-related, cognitive schemata, e.g., the participants' level of drive for thinness, thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction and their weight control behaviors. These findings clearly support the application of an indirect measure such as the SRC task in order to examine the concepts thinspiration and fear of fat, and highlight the need for further research that validates and extends current results.