Effects of Weight Cue Reactivity on Self-Report Measures of Body Dissatisfaction

  • Marshall T. Beauchamp
  • Tarrah B. Mitchell
  • Ric G. Steele


Research has shown that answers on self-report measures can be influenced by a participant’s awareness of information regarding the study (“reactivity”). There exists a gap in the literature regarding weight cue reactivity on self-report measures of body dissatisfaction (BD). This type of reactivity involves exposing participants to information regarding their height, weight, or body mass index (BMI). Ninety-Nine participants (45.5 % female, mean age = 20.17, SD = 3.08) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: proximal weight cue (being weighed before completing measures); distal weight cue (knowledge of impending measurement following questionnaire completion); and no weight cues (control), all before measures of BD. Perceived body size and BD were measured using the Stunkard Figure Rating Scale. Two separate ANCOVAs revealed a significant main effect for condition on self-reported perceived body size F [2,92] = 5.22, p = 0.01, η2 = 0.10, as well as on BD, F [2,92] = 9.46, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.17, while controlling for BMI. Both proximal and distal cues elicited elevated BD; only proximal cues elicited self-reported perceived body size. These results quantify the impact of weight cue reactivity effects on self-report measures and suggest that researchers and/or clinicians collect answers on such measures prior to anthropometric data.


Reactivity Body dissatisfaction Body image Cue-based reactivity 



This research was supported by an undergraduate research grant awarded to the first author by the University of Kansas Honors Department. The authors would like to offer special thanks and acknowledgement to Jason Van Allen and Cynthia E. Brown for assistance in preparation and proofing of this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Marshall T. Beauchamp, Tarrah B. Mitchell, and Ric G. Steele declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Experiment Participants

The current study was conducted with the informed consent of all participants. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the appropriate institutional review committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marshall T. Beauchamp
    • 1
  • Tarrah B. Mitchell
    • 1
  • Ric G. Steele
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Child Psychology ProgramUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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