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This study explored the efficacy of reflective writing tasks for reducing state body dissatisfaction and improving self-improvement motivation. Participants (N = 153) were exposed to a threatening body image scenario, after which they reported their state body dissatisfaction. Following randomisation to one of three interventions (self-esteem, self-compassion, or positive distraction control), participants completed the state body dissatisfaction measures again along with a measure of self-improvement motivation. At post-intervention, state weight dissatisfaction and appearance dissatisfaction were significantly lower and self-improvement motivation was significantly higher in the self-compassion group than in both the self-esteem and control groups. Trait body dissatisfaction moderated the efficacy of the intervention whereby the benefit of the self-compassion intervention became evident at moderate levels of trait body dissatisfaction, and was most apparent at high levels of body dissatisfaction. Self-compassion was a robust and efficacious method through which to promote immediate improvements to bodily feelings and desire to self-improve.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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