Romantic Partner Influence on Body Satisfaction in Undergraduate Females: An Experimental Study of Exposure to Positive and Negative Verbal Commentary

Suzanne Hamby, The College of Wooster


The present theory-driven, experimental study examined romantic partner influence on body satisfaction in undergraduate females. Fifty-five female participants were randomly assigned to either a Significant Other or General Other group condition. They were asked to read twelve vignettes that contained positive and negative ability and appearance commentaries from either a Significant Other or General Other. After reading each vignette, participants reported their current mood and body satisfaction. Upon completion, the participants were assessed for pre-existing empathy, self-esteem, eating disturbance, and body satisfaction levels. The results indicated that there were no significant differences between the General Other and Significant Other conditions. Several of the pre-existing levels were shown to be significant predictors of emotional responses to the vignette conditions. Results from this study suggest that romantic partners are at least as important as peers, in terms of magnitude of influence on body satisfaction in women. The results obtained from this study have important implications for future intervention efforts and directions in body image research.