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'Listening to your heart' could improve body image, says study

Date:
February 6, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Women who are more aware of their bodies from within are less likely to think of their bodies principally as objects, according to new research.

Women who are more aware of their bodies from within are less likely to think of their bodies principally as objects, according to research published February 6 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Vivien Ainley and Manos Tsakiris from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The authors asked healthy female student volunteers aged between 19 -- 26 to concentrate and count their own heartbeats, simply by "listening" to their bodies. Their accuracy in this heartbeat perception test was compared with their degree of self-objectification, based on how significant they considered 10 body attributes to their sense of self. Attributes were both appearance-based, like attractiveness and body measurements, and competence-based, such as health and energy levels.

The more accurate the women were in detecting their heartbeats, the less they tended to think of their bodies as objects. These findings have important implications for understanding body image dissatisfaction and clinical disorders which are linked to self-objectification, such as anorexia.

Dr Manos Tsakiris from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway said: "People have the remarkable ability to perceive themselves from the perspective of an outside observer. However, there is a danger that some women can develop an excessive tendency to regard their bodies as 'objects', while neglecting to value them from within, for their physical competence and health. Women who 'self-objectify', in this way, are vulnerable to eating disorders and a range of other clinical conditions such as depression and sexual dysfunction."

Fellow researcher Vivien Ainley commented that "We believe that our measure of body awareness, which assesses how well women are able to listen to their internal signals, will prove a valuable addition to research into self-objectification and women's resulting mental health."


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The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vivien Ainley, Manos Tsakiris. Body Conscious? Interoceptive Awareness, Measured by Heartbeat Perception, Is Negatively Correlated with Self-Objectification. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (2): e55568 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055568

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "'Listening to your heart' could improve body image, says study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206185837.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, February 6). 'Listening to your heart' could improve body image, says study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206185837.htm
Public Library of Science. "'Listening to your heart' could improve body image, says study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206185837.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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