Examination of bidirectional relationships between fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns over 3 years: A longitudinal cohort study of Australian adolescents

Nora Trompeter*, Emma Austen, Kay Bussey, Erin E. Reilly, Mitchell L. Cunningham, Jonathan Mond, Alexandra Lonergan, Jack Tame, Deborah Mitchison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Adolescents commonly experience both fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns. However, evidence concerning the prospective associations between these constructs during adolescence is limited. The current study examined the bidirectional relationships between fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns over a 3-year period in adolescents. Method: Australian high school students (n = 2073; 55% girls) completed self-report measures at three timepoints, each 1 year apart. Results: Findings showed a bidirectional relationship, whereby increases in fear of negative evaluation predicted exacerbated weight/shape concerns, and vice versa. Results point towards a vicious maintenance cycle between fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns. Discussion: Findings from the current study highlight the importance of considering both fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns in the development of health promotion and prevention programs designed to reduce the occurrence and adverse effects of body dissatisfaction or improve general mental health. Public Significance: Many adolescents experience some level of fear of negative evaluation (i.e., worry about being judged by others) and worry about their weight and/or shape. This study examined the prospective relationship between both constructs. Findings showed a bidirectional relationship, whereby higher fear of negative evaluation predicted increased weight/shape concerns, and vice versa. Programs designed to reduce body dissatisfaction might be improved by targeting both fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-653
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • eating disorders
  • fear of negative evaluation
  • social anxiety
  • weight and shape concerns

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