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Analysis of Attentional Bias towards Attractive and Unattractive Body Regions among Overweight Males and Females: An Eye-Movement Study

  • Background Body image distortion is highly prevalent among overweight individuals. Whilst there is evidence that body-dissatisfied women and those suffering from disordered eating show a negative attentional bias towards their own unattractive body parts and others' attractive body parts, little is known about visual attention patterns in the area of obesity and with respect to males. Since eating disorders and obesity share common features in terms of distorted body image and body dissatisfaction, the aim of this study was to examine whether overweight men and women show a similar attentional bias. Methods/Design We analyzed eye movements in 30 overweight individuals (18 females) and 28 normal-weight individuals (16 females) with respect to the participants' own pictures as well as gender- and BMI-matched control pictures (front and back view). Additionally, we assessed body image and disordered eating using validated questionnaires. Discussion The overweight sample rated their own body as less attractive and showed a moreBackground Body image distortion is highly prevalent among overweight individuals. Whilst there is evidence that body-dissatisfied women and those suffering from disordered eating show a negative attentional bias towards their own unattractive body parts and others' attractive body parts, little is known about visual attention patterns in the area of obesity and with respect to males. Since eating disorders and obesity share common features in terms of distorted body image and body dissatisfaction, the aim of this study was to examine whether overweight men and women show a similar attentional bias. Methods/Design We analyzed eye movements in 30 overweight individuals (18 females) and 28 normal-weight individuals (16 females) with respect to the participants' own pictures as well as gender- and BMI-matched control pictures (front and back view). Additionally, we assessed body image and disordered eating using validated questionnaires. Discussion The overweight sample rated their own body as less attractive and showed a more disturbed body image. Contrary to our assumptions, they focused significantly longer on attractive compared to unattractive regions of both their own and the control body. For one's own body, this was more pronounced for women. A higher weight status and more frequent body checking predicted attentional bias towards attractive body parts. We found that overweight adults exhibit an unexpected and stable pattern of selective attention, with a distinctive focus on their own attractive body regions despite higher levels of body dissatisfaction. This positive attentional bias may either be an indicator of a more pronounced pattern of attentional avoidance or a self-enhancing strategy. Further research is warranted to clarify these results.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Petra WarschburgerORCiDGND, Claudia CalvanoGND, Eike M. Richter, Ralf EngbertORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140813
ISSN:1932-6203 (print)
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=26479500
Parent Title (English):PLoS one
Publisher:PLoS
Place of publication:San Fransisco
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Volume:10
Issue:10
Pagenumber:17
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert
Publication Way:Open Access