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Body image concerns are typically linked with negative outcomes such as disordered eating and diminished well-being, but some people can exhibit psychological flexibility and remain committed to their valued goals despite being dissatisfied about their bodies. Such flexibility is most frequently measured by the Body Image–Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (BI-AAQ). This study used a recently validated, fully automated method based on genetic algorithms (GAs) on data from an American community sample (N1 = 538, 71.5% female, Age: M = 40.87, SD = 13.5) to abbreviate the 12-item BI-AAQ to a 5-item short form, BI-AAQ-5. Validation tests were conducted on data from an independent community sample (N2 = 762, 44.6% female, Age: M = 40.65, SD = 13.06). The short form performed comparably to the long form in terms of its factor structure and correlations with theoretically relevant constructs, including body image dissatisfaction, stigma, internalization of societal norms of appearance, self-compassion, and poor mental health. Further, preliminary analyses using structural equation modeling showed that body image flexibility, as measured by either the long or short form, was associated with almost all the criterion variables, even while controlling for a highly related construct of body image dissatisfaction. These results demonstrate the potential discriminant validity of both the long and short form of the BI-AAQ, and show that the BI-AAQ-5 is a suitable alternative to its long form. We discuss how psychological flexibility with respect to body image dissatisfaction can be conducive to positive functioning.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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