Poor Body Image and Alcohol Use in Women

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Two studies were conducted to examine the association between body image and alcohol use. Of interest was the extent to which alcohol outcome expectancies act as a moderator in this relationship, particularly in women. In Study 1, 421 college students (175 men, 246 women) provided self-report data on body image, social expressiveness expectancies, and average weekly alcohol use; the data were examined using a moderation model. Results showed that women with poor body image and high social expressiveness expectancies reported a significantly greater amount of average weekly alcohol consumption, whereas no such interaction was observed for men. Study 2 tested the same moderation model with 67 female participants; however, this second study utilized an in-lab behavioral measure of alcohol consumption as the outcome variable. The second study replicated results from Study 1, showing that women with overweight body image and alcohol-related high social expressiveness expectancies consumed significantly more beer during a taste rating task than women with other combinations of these variables. Taken together, the results of Studies 1 and 2 indicate that, specifically for women, an overweight body image and positive expectancies about the social, confidence-enhancing benefits of alcohol act as risk factors for excessive drinking.

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