Self-deprecation and estimates of body size in women.

V. Lewis, N. Donaghue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The subject of body image in women has received considerable attention particularly with concern about its relationship to behaviours such as dieting. This study investigated the reported tendency of women to see thinness as desirable and to perceive themselves as fatter than others do. This tendency is inconsistent with the general findings on self-enhancement that show that people (including women) generally overestimate the extent to which they possess desirable characteristics. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether the tendency for women to report themselves as fatter than others perceive them is part of a general tendency to deprecate themselves on socially desirable qualities or whether this deprecation is restricted to body size. To investigate this, 29 female undergraduates in psychology participated in a study comparing own and others' perceptions of body size, attractiveness, sexiness, intelligence, and friendliness. Compared with the ratings of them given by others, women tended to make self-enhancing judgements of their attractiveness, sexiness, intelligence, and friendliness. This was not found for body size, however, for which self-ratings tended to be the same as those made by others. The failure to find self-enhancing judgements of body size is discussed in terms of the relatively unvarying standards presented to women concerning ideal body size compared to the more subjective standards used to evaluate other qualities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


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