Assessing Body Image States
THOMAS F. CASH
As preceding chapters on body image assessment clearly reveal, researchers and clinicians have a plethora of measures from which to choose. To most effectively use these measures, however, precisely what facet or facets of the body image construct are of interest must be identified. Is the goal to evaluate the extent to which people hold distorted perceptions of their body size? Or is the goal to measure individuals' evaluative experiences of their physical appearance? Given a focus on evaluative experiences, is the goal to assess evaluative cognitions, such as body image thoughts or appraisals, or to assess the emotions associated with these cognitions? Is the goal to tap global evaluations, such as overall appearance satisfaction, or more specific evaluations of particular physical attributes, such as weight or shape satisfaction? Should satisfaction be measured directly, or as the degree to which individuals view these attributes as discrepant from their personal ideals? Given the objective of quantifying people's psychological investment in their appearance vis-à-vis their sense of self, the questions become: To what degree have they internalized appearance-related standards or ideals, and how subjectively important is their attainment of these ideals? Are there strongly held beliefs, assumptions, or schemas about the meaning and influence of their physical appearance in their lives? Finally, is the objective to assess behavioral patterns that reflect individuals' attempts to control not only their appearance but also their thoughts and feelings about their looks?