Body dissatisfaction, negative affect, and engagement in healthy behaviors: The conditional effect of future-self continuity

Mun Yee Kwan, Daniel Bentley, Mark Serper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The relationship between body dissatisfaction and negative affect is complex, with some research suggesting that this combination motivates individuals to engage in more health-related behaviors; while other studies find it increases unhealthy behavior. To bridge this gap, it may be the case that to the extent these individuals have continuity between their present and future selves, the more likely they are able to make positive health-related choices with this future self in mind. We examined individuals (n = 344; 51.74% men) aged between 18 and 72 years (M = 39.66, SD = 11.49) who endorsed high negative affect along with body dissatisfaction but either had high or low levels of future self-continuity. We found individuals experiencing body dissatisfaction and negative affect reported higher engagement in healthy behaviors only if they had a strong connection to their future self, index of moderated mediation = 0.07 (95% CI = 0.02, 0.13). These findings support targeting future-self continuity in therapeutic regimens to bolster engagement in healthy behaviors among individuals with body dissatisfaction and high negative affect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • body dissatisfaction
  • future-self continuity
  • healthy behaviors
  • negative affect

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