Self-talk as a mediator in the relationship between perfectionism and body image: a study of Polish women with overweight and obesity in the process of losing weight
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Department of Personality Psychology, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
Provincial Centre for Addiction Prevention and Therapy, Łomża, Poland
Submission date: 2023-08-08
Final revision date: 2023-11-15
Acceptance date: 2023-12-13
Online publication date: 2024-01-16
Corresponding author
Małgorzata M. Puchalska-Wasyl   

Department of Personality Psychology, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
A negative body image often stems from high standards in the physical domain and perfectionism, which leads to upsetting self-related experiences. Under these circumstances, self-talk may be a self-regulatory strategy. Therefore, we tested whether the relationship between perfectionism and body image was mediated by different types of self-talk.

Participants and procedure:
Participants were 214 women with overweight or obesity in the process of losing weight. They completed the Body Attitude Test, the Self-Talk Scale, and the Polish Adaptive and Maladaptive Perfectionism Questionnaire.

We found two parallel mediators in the analyzed relationship. Maladaptive perfectionism: (a) favored self-critical self-talk, which resulted in a negative body image; (b) decreased the chance of self-reinforcing self-talk, which could have prevented a negative body image from developing. Contrary to our hypothesis, social-assessing self-talk was not a mediator in this relationship.

Replication of the result that social-assessing self-talk is not a mediator in the studied relationship may be of great importance for psychological practice. It means that the unfavorable assessment of our body by others will not be a source of our negative body image as long as we do not begin to criticize ourselves and block praise directed at ourselves. Minimizing self-critical self-talk and replacing it with self-reinforcing self-talk may prove to be a promising path in therapeutic work to improve body image.

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