1. Based on the figures above, choose the number that best represents how you currently look.
2. Based on the figures above, choose the number that best represents how you would ideally like to look.
3. Choose the number that best represents the figure you think members of the opposite sex find most attractive.
A person who chooses the same value for the first two questions is likely highly satisfied with their body image. The distance between the numbers given in the first two responses corresponds to decreasing body image satisfaction; because a person perceives a large difference between their body size and their “ideal” body size, they are likely to be dissatisfied with their physical appearance.
What are typical results for this study?
Women at Dartmouth perceived a relatively large difference between their own bodies and the “ideal” female body type. This doesn’t seem surprising, but Heatherton found that many women believe that the “ideal” body type is even thinner than what they believe men want. That is, women think they know what men desire in a female physique but wish to be even lighter. This finding raises many questions. If the desire to look attractive to the opposite sex influenced women’s perceptions, wouldn’t women want to have a body image that correspons to men’s desires? This study suggests that there is something beyond attracting the opposite sex that determines body image satisfaction.
Men perceived a very small difference between their own bodies, the “ideal” male body type, and the body type they believe women want. Why were the male results so different from the female results? There are probably many reasons, all arising from a tangle of culture, upbringing, psychology, and genetics, that contribute to this gender difference.
No information was collected on transgender individuals.
Note: The study performed above is not a medical diagnosis or an official health statement. All results of this experiment are generalizations of data.
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