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Title: Appearance-based Rejection Sensitivity : an important new variable for health psychology?
Author: Hallam, Jennifer Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 7065
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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Appearance-based Rejection Sensitivity (ARS) is a unique personality processing system that has been shown to involve a dynamic interaction between affect and cognition. Despite being in its infancy, several links have been established between ARS, symptoms of disordered eating and social withdrawal. Currently the main body of ARS literature pertains to body image research, particularly in the effect it can have on romantic relationships, and no research has been conducted to establish how it affects general health. The potential of ARS to add to a wider body of research domains was established during an initial literature review and the principal aim of the current thesis was to explore the nature of ARS within health behaviour and stress research. Cross sectional surveys were utilised to measure the effects of ARS on self-reported health behaviour intention, self-reported behaviour and its predictive validity over and above chronic and acute stress and mainstream personality constructs. ARS was shown to have predictive validity, over and above age, gender, mainstream personality constructs, chronic and acute stress for self-reported behaviour and behavioural intention for a series of prominent health behaviours such as exercise and diet. ARS was found to be negatively associated with exercise, diet and sun protection behaviour and behavioural intention and positively associated with sunbed use and alcohol and nicotine consumption. Such that, individuals high in ARS consumed more saturated fat, exercised less, consumed fewer fruits and vegetables than their low ARS counterparts and also used a sunbed more and consumed more alcohol and nicotine. ARS was also shown to moderate the relationship between stress and fat consumption, exercise and artificial tanning behaviour, such that at high levels of stress high ARS individuals consumed more fat, exercised less and used a sunbed more than low ARS individuals. A daily diary and multi-level modelling was employed to measure the effects of daily stress on health behaviour outcomes, daily mood, social withdrawal and perseverative cognition, and whether ARS moderated these effects. High levels of ARS were associated with higher levels of daily stress, particularly appearance and interpersonal related stress. On days of high stress, ARS moderated the relationship between hassles and behavioural outcomes for snacking, exercise, mood, perseverative cognition and social withdrawal. Such that, on days of stress high ARS individuals withdrew from social situations, worried about past and future appearance concerns, snacked on high fat foods, exercised less and engaged in artificial tanning behaviours more than their low ARS counterparts. This thesis explored the relationship between ARS and health behaviours, personality, stress and health behaviour outcomes and highlights multiple pathways between these variables. The results and the relationships between the variables were replicated within all three studies whilst employing a range of measures and research methodologies. The research within the thesis is the first to explore ARS outside the realm of body image research and to highlight its importance in stress and health behaviour research. This highlights the novelty of the research within the thesis and the implications it has, not only for body image research, but also to stress and health behaviour research and has made significant contributions to the respective research fields.
Supervisor: O'Connor, Daryl Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available