The role of aesthetic sensitivity in body dysmorphic disorder

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Individuals with a higher aesthetic sensitivity may be more vulnerable to developing body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Aesthetic sensitivity has 3 components: (a) perceptual, (b) emotional, and (c) evaluative. Individuals with BDD (n = 50) were compared with a control group of individuals with an education or employment in art and design related fields (n = 50) and a control group of individuals without aesthetic training (n = 50). A facial photograph of each participant was manipulated to create a 9-image symmetry continuum. Presented with the continuum on a computer, participants were required to select and rate the image representing their self-actual, self-ideal, idea of perfect, most physically attractive, most pleasure, and most disgust. Control symmetry continua examined the specificity of the disturbance. As predicted, BDD participants displayed no distortion in their perceptual processing but were disturbed in their negative emotional/evaluative processing of their self-image. A significant discrepancy between their self-actual and self-ideal, resulting from an absent self-serving bias in their self-actual (a bias exhibited by controls) appears to be the source of their disturbance. They also overvalued the importance of appearance and self-objectified. These aesthetic evaluations may predispose individuals to BDD and/or maintain the disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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