The Development and Validation of the Physical Appearance Comparison Scale–3 (PACS-3)

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Abstract

Appearance comparison processes are implicated in the development of body-image disturbance and disordered eating. The Physical Appearance Comparison Scale—Revised (PACS−R) assesses the simple frequency of appearance comparisons; however, research has suggested that other aspects of appearance comparisons (e.g., comparison direction) may moderate the association between comparisons and their negative outcomes. In the current study, the PACS−R was revised to examine aspects of comparisons with relevance to body-image and eating outcomes. Specifically, the measure was modified to examine (a) dimensions of physical appearance relevant to men and women (i.e., weight−shape, muscularity, and overall physical appearance), (b) comparisons with proximal and distal targets, (c) upward versus downward comparisons, and (d) the acute emotional impact of comparisons. The newly revised measure, labeled the PACS-3, along with existing measures of appearance comparison, body satisfaction, eating pathology, and self-esteem, was completed by 1,533 college men and women. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to examine the factor structure of the PACS-3. In addition, the reliability, convergent validity, and incremental validity of the PACS-3 scores were examined. The final PACS-3 comprises 27 items and 9 subscales: Proximal: Frequency, Distal: Frequency, Muscular: Frequency, Proximal: Direction, Distal: Direction, Muscular: Direction, Proximal: Effect, Distal: Effect, and Muscular: Effect. the PACS-3 subscale scores demonstrated good reliability and convergent validity. Moreover, the PACS-3 subscales greatly improved the prediction of body satisfaction and disordered eating relative to existing measures of appearance comparison. Overall, the PACS-3 improves upon existing scales and offers a comprehensive assessment of appearance-comparison processes.

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