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Title: Investigating the impact of compassion based interventions on body image concerns : can self-compassionate letter writing counteract the impact of thin ideals?
Author: Lewis, Isabel Florence
ISNI:       0000 0004 8509 229X
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2020
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A literature review integrated 24 experimental studies which sought to improve body image through interventions in compassion. Findings across various study designs consistently demonstrated that encouraging participants to be more self-compassionate as well as receiving compassion from others generally led to a reduction in body image concerns as well as eating disorder pathology. Significant increases in self-compassion were not found to coincide with improvements in body image in a large proportion of studies, however. To conclude the review, a number of suggestions for future research are proposed, in order to refine intervention methodologies and clarify how compassion might contribute to promoting healthier body image. An empirical study examined the impact of a week-long self-compassionate letter writing task on body image concerns, activated by the presentation of thin ideal images. Sixty-two adult female reporting eating disorder symptomology were randomly assigned to the intervention (n = 31) or control (n = 31) groups. All participants were required to complete measures in body satisfaction, body appreciation, thin-ideal internalisation, social appearance comparisons, self-compassion and self-esteem, at baseline and after viewing the thin ideal images. Participants in the intervention group were then trained in the letter writing task, and after practising this for one week were reassessed in the same measures, alongside the control group. After one week, self-compassionate letter writing significantly improved scores in body satisfaction, body appreciation, thin-ideal internalisation and self-esteem relative to the control group. When presented the second time, the effect of the thin ideals on body satisfaction and body appreciation was significantly less overall, regardless of group. Letter writing interventions may help to enhance self-compassion as well as self-esteem and may in turn help to alleviate body image concerns.
Supervisor: Stopa, Lusia ; Turner, Hannah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available