A Writing Intervention for Negative Body Image: Pennebaker Fails to Surpass the Placebo

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mary Ballard Ph.D., Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/

Abstract: Pennebaker’s therapeutic writing paradigm was assessed as a brief intervention for negative body image. Females were randomly assigned to write about their body image (experimental; n = 23) or their bedroom (controls; n = 25) for four days. Body image, eating-disordered behavior, and mood were assessed at baseline, after the 4th day of writing, and at 1-month follow-up. Despite hypotheses that experimental participants would show more improvement over time, participation in the study, regardless of condition, was related to significant improvements in body image and mood, and decreased eating-disordered behavior over time. Placebo, sensitization effects, and regression to the mean are discussed as potential explanations for this unexpected finding. Suggestions for future research are made.

Additional Information

Earnhardt, J. L., Martz, D. M., Ballard, M. E., & Curtin, L. (2002). A writing intervention for negative body image: Pennebaker fails to surpass the placebo. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 17(1): 19-35. Published by Routledge (ISSN: 1540-4730).
Language: English
Date: 2002

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