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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Examining the role of appearance ideal internalization and body image concerns on women's experiences of cognitive distraction during sex and sexual desire Zelichowska, Joanna


Existing research grounded in objectification theory has demonstrated links between the internalization of sociocultural appearance ideals, body image concerns, and problems with sexual functioning and satisfaction for women in Western cultures. However, less is known about how these constructs impact women’s experiences of distraction during sex and sexual desire. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of multiple facets of appearance ideal internalization and body image concerns in predicting women’s experiences of sexual desire and distracting thoughts during partnered sexual activity. One hundred and thirty four adult women from Vancouver and the Lower Mainland participated in an online survey and completed measures of thin ideal internalization, weight bias internalization, body shape concerns, body esteem (sexual attractiveness, weight concern, physical condition), sexual desire, and appearance and performance-based distraction during sexual activity. Correlations supported previous research findings demonstrating links among appearance ideal internalization, body image concerns, and cognitive distraction during sex, with the exception of sexual desire, which was not associated with cognitive distraction during sex. As hypothesized, regression analyses revealed that appearance ideal internalization and body shape concerns uniquely predicted appearance and performance-based distractions during sex. Specifically, weight bias internalization, body shape and weights concerns, and low self-perceived sexual attractiveness emerged as the strongest predictors. Finally, results indicated that sexual desire was not predicted by body image concerns, appearance ideal internalization, or cognitive distraction during sex. Findings are discussed in the context of current literature.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada