A Brief Mobile Evaluative Conditioning App to Reduce Body Dissatisfaction? A Pilot Study in University Women.

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Objective: Body dissatisfaction is a major risk factor underlying vulnerability to eating disorders. Experimental studies conducted in controlled environments suggest that body dissatisfaction could be improved by using evaluative conditioning (EC). The present study evaluates the feasibility of using an EC app in everyday life and the effects of its use on body dissatisfaction. Method: We designed a game-like app inspired by the Therapeutic EC app. 60 participants were randomly assigned to two conditions. Participants in the EC condition had to pair photographs of their own body with positive photographs, while participants in the neutral condition had to pair photographs of their own body with neutral photographs. We tested the effect of use of the app on body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, self-esteem, depressive symptoms and eating behaviors. Results: Analysis revealed that participants in all conditions presented a significant decrease in body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness and an increase in self-esteem. However, contrary to our hypothesis, these effects were no greater in the EC condition than in the neutral condition. Conclusion: This is the first study to evaluate the effects of an app-based EC intervention targeting body image. Results appear to be promising and the app could easily be implemented in an ecological setting as it is a low effort, attractive and accessible intervention. However, the findings question the idea that EC was responsible for the observed effects which could be explained by the exposure effect. Results are discussed.

AuthorKosinski, Thierry
JournalFrontiers in psychology

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