Terra Towne

Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kyle P. De Young


Studies have found that greater dissatisfaction with non-weight-related body parts is associated with drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, suggesting that eating disorder behaviors may be compensatory mechanisms for less malleable aspects of appearance. The aim of the present study was to explore the relationship between non-weight and shape-related appearance dissatisfaction (NWSAD), perceived malleability, and eating disorder and appearance-related behaviors. Participants were students enrolled in undergraduate psychology courses at a mid-size midwestern university. All participants completed the Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire, Drive for Muscularity Scale, Body Shape Questionnaire, visual analogue scales assessing NWSAD, appearance-related behaviors checklist, and a measure assessing non-weight and shape-related body malleability. Generalized estimating equations were used to determine the relationship between NWSAD, eating disordered and appearance-related behaviors, and perceived malleability. Less NWSAD was associated with more frequent compulsive exercise, while greater perceived malleability was associated with lifetime prevalence rates of indoor tanning bed use and cosmetic dermatologic procedures. Binge eating was associated with a NWSAD by perceived malleability interaction. Results suggest that perceived malleability may increase the likelihood of engaging in appearance-related behaviors and serve as a protective factor for NWSAD. The relationship between low NWSAD, perceived malleability, and high expectations of weight and shape may influence the occurrence of eating disordered behaviors.