Exploring Associations Between Social Appearance Anxiety, External Shame and Body Dissatisfaction
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Body dissatisfaction (BD) is a subjective dissatisfaction of the shape or size of one’s own body and is well supported as a risk factor for many adverse outcomes such as depression, eating disorders and reduced quality of life. Social appearance anxiety (SAA) is a negative social evaluative fear which is concerned specifically regarding one’s physical appearance. SAA has been positively associated with BD in previous research, however the mechanism by which this relationship operates has been unclear. The current study aimed to explore this relationship further and investigate if external shame – or judgement of oneself as perceived to be seen through the eyes of others – may mediate this association, as shame has been associated with both SAA and BD. N = 243 multinational participants, including 70 males and 173 females, aged ranging from 18 to 72 years old were recruited from the general population through snowball sampling methods and social media. Participants completed an online questionnaire assessing measures of social appearance anxiety, body dissatisfaction and external shame. Results indicated that higher SAA is associated with more BD; higher SAA is associated with more external shame; external shame does not mediate the SAA-BD relationship, but has a slight suppressing effect on BD. Suggestions for further research include exploring gender differences in the SAA-ES-BD effect, and testing longitudinal models involving adolescents and social physique anxiety as a variable.