The Cerberus Effect: New Study Reveals Three Underlying Factors Of Poor Body Image

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A new study by Queendom.com and PsychTests.com indicates that body image issues are associated with unhealthy food habits, unhealthy stress management strategies, and a lack of protective personality factors.

Body image is more complex than being just a weight problem.

The basis of body image issues may be found in 3 factors: Attitude toward food, ability to deal with stress, and a lack of protective personality traits.

Body image issues that are linked to weight problems and eating disorders are almost always an indication of an underlying emotional or psychological issue.

“Body shaming” has become an unfortunate byproduct of the social media world, where strangers take it upon themselves to point out the physical flaws of individuals in the public eye. Even seemingly harmless fashion articles asking readers “Who wore it better” are based on the premise a person’s body just isn’t good enough.

Weight issues tend to be the most common source of body image issues, and research from Queendom indicates that there are three factors that play a role.

Analyzing data from 3,177 people who took their Diet & Weight Loss Test, researchers who ran the study indicate that of the people who dislike their body, 2% are underweight, 47% are overweight, 31% are obese, and 20% are a healthy weight. Here’s what they have in common:

UNHEALTHY EATING HABITS

Individuals who dislike their body tend to have a negative attitude and approach to food, such as:

1)    Food guilt: Entails feeling bad about overeating or eating certain foods, specifically junk food. On a scale from 0 to 100, those who hate their body scored 64, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 43, and those who love their body scored 35.

2)    Grazing: Refers to the tendency to pick at food even in the absence of physical hunger. Those who hate their body scored 61, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 44, and those who love their body scored 39.

3)    Emotional eating: An emotional eater consumes food for comfort or to otherwise reduce the unpleasantness of negative emotional states like sadness, frustration, anxiety, guilt, or boredom. Those who hate their body scored 50, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 34, and those who love their body scored 32.

4)    Binge eating: Binge eaters consume large amounts of food in a short period of time. Once they start eating, they feel like they can’t stop. Those who hate their body scored 58, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 40, and those who love their body scored 35.

UNHEALTHY COPING STRATEGIES

Compared to those who love their body, those with a poor body image are less likely to use healthy coping technique (e.g. seeking support from others, seeking information from a professional), and more likely to use empty coping techniques such as the following:

1)    Rumination: Refers to the tendency to incessantly obsess over a problem, interfering with the person’s sleep habits and daily life. Those who hate their body scored 60, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 46, and those who love their body scored 44.

2)    Avoidance: As the title entails, individuals who adopt this coping style refuse to take action to resolve the problem, let alone think about it. They refuse to face the issue head-on. Those who hate their body scored 47, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 37, and those who love their body scored 36.

3)    Helplessness: This strategy involves conceding defeat, and abandoning all efforts to fix the situation. The person has lost all hope and has decided to accept their fate. Those who hate their body scored 53, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 37, and those who love their body scored 34.

4)    Social withdrawal: Rather than seeking support and advice from others, individuals who use this coping strategy isolate themselves from others. They may even refuse to leave their home. Those who hate their body scored 58, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 46, and those who love their body scored 44.

LACK OF PROTECTIVE PERSONALITY TRAITS

Stress is the single most destructive factor to our physical, emotional, psychological, and social health. Without the protective factors outlined below, individuals are more likely to fall victim to a host of problems, including overeating, burnout, and addiction.

1)    Self-esteem: This trait forms the basis of every decision a person makes, from what to wear to their choice of friends, partner, and job. Low self-esteem can significantly impact a person’s body image, relationships, and professional success, and vice versa, resulting in a vicious cycle. Those who hate their body scored 56, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 73, and those who love their body scored 75.

2)    Self-discipline: The ability to monitor and regulate feelings and behavior depends a great deal on self-discipline. Those who possess this trait tend to have stronger willpower, and are less likely to be impulsive. They think through their actions before taking them. Those who hate their body scored 41, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 57, and those who love their body scored 59.

3)    Tolerance for frustration: Individuals with a low frustration tolerance struggle to deal with stress, delays, obstacles, or any situation that makes them uncomfortable. They are unable to delay gratification; when they want something, they want it now. Those who hate their body scored 42, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 57, and those who love their body scored 61.

4)    Proactive attitude: Individuals who are proactive don’t wait for things to happen, for opportunities to fall on their lap, or for others to tell them what to do. They take initiative when they want to make a change in their life. Those who hate their body scored 55, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 67, and those who love their body scored 71.

5)    Self-efficacy: Individuals who possess self-efficacy believe that they have the ability to succeed and to handle challenges. They trust that they have what it takes to overcome any obstacle that gets in their way. Those who hate their body scored 58, those who somewhat dislike their body scored 71, and those who love their body scored 74.

“Body image issues that are linked to weight problems and eating disorders are almost always an indication of an underlying emotional or psychological issue,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests, the parent company of Queendom. “This is why some people re-gain weight after undergoing bariatric surgery, or why anorexic patients don’t see what others see when they look in the mirror – they have yet to deal with the underlying causes of their body issues, be it bad eating habits or emotional problems. This means that until a person deals with the issue that led to their body image problems, be it trauma, horrible childhood, an unhappy marriage, a stressful job or the like, they will continue to hate what they see in the mirror.”

Want to assess your diet habits? Go to http://www.queendom.com/tests/take_test.php?idRegTest=3092

Request a free demo of this test and any other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: Spotting Diamonds in the Rough. (http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr)

About Queendom.com
Queendom.com is a subsidiary of PsychTests AIM Inc. Queendom.com is a site that creates an interactive venue for self-exploration with a healthy dose of fun. The site offers a full range of professional-quality, scientifically validated psychological assessments that empower people to grow and reach their real potential through insightful feedback and detailed, custom-tailored analysis.

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCH Profile.com). The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
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