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Experimental Evidence that Theistic-Religious Body Affirmations Improve Women's Body Image

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We examined in a random-assignment, pretest-posttest design whether college women's body image would improve after reading religious and spiritual affirmations about their bodies. The sample was predominantly white and Christian. In a pretest, women completed measures of religiosity and body esteem (how they felt about their weight and appearance) and were then assigned via matched random assignment to three different groups for a treatment and posttest one week later. In the Religious group, women read affirmations with a theistic and Christian-based tone that emphasized God's love and acceptance of their bodies; in the Spiritual group, women read body affirmations with a more positive secular tone and no mention of God; Control group women read random statements about campus issues. After reading the affirmations, women then viewed photos of “thin ideal” fashion models to activate body image concerns. Women next completed the posttest body esteem measures. Women in the Religious group increased significantly compared to Control women (who declined) in how they felt about their appearance and looks. Women in the Spiritual condition improved marginally compared to the Control condition.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Chris J. Boyatzis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, Bucknell University. 2: Sarah Kline recently completed her master's in psychology at Bucknell University, 305 Bull Run Crossing, Lewisburg, PA 17837., Email:

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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