Thinking Meta-Theoretically about the Role of Internalization in the Development of Body Dissatisfaction and Body Change Behaviors

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Internalization of societal standards of physical attractiveness (i.e., internalization of the thin ideal for women and internalization of the mesomorphic ideal for men) is a widely studied and robust risk factor for body dissatisfaction and maladaptive body change behaviors. Substantial empirical research supports internalization as both a mediator and a moderator of the relation between societal influences and body dissatisfaction. In this paper, a primer on mediation and moderation is followed by a review of literature and discussion of the extent to which internalization can theoretically fulfill the roles of both mediation and moderation. The literature review revealed a stark contrast in research design (experimental versus non-experimental design) when alternate conceptualizations of internalization are adopted. A meta-theoretical, moderated mediation model is presented. This model integrates previous research and can inform future empirical and clinical endeavors. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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