Let me start with an apology ... I agreed (with great excitement!) to write this Body Talk blog! Then, my semester started, and each time I started to do an entry, multiple tasks (students with exam questions, papers to grade, book deadlines from my editor) simply intruded. So, here is my new plan: each week I will do a new blog entry that summarizes classic or current research on body imagine, and then links that research to real-world events and experiences. I hope this approach proves to be easier for me to manage, and will be of interest to many readers!
I'm going to start with one of my favorite studies (and one of the favorites of many of my students), which was conducted by Mori, Chaiken, Pliner (1987). In this study, female college students came into the psychology lab to participate in a study in which they were asked to have a conversation with a male student. Before the conversation, the women read a background sheet about the partner, which either made him/her seem desirable (interested in travel, athletics, photography, wanted to go to law school, and single) or undesirable (no interests other than watching TV, no plans other than making money). They were then asked to have a 20-minute conversation, and as the experimenter left the room, she gestured to a bowl of candy (M & Ms) and said "oh, these were left over from a party -- help yourself". Researchers then measured how many candies the subjects ate under the two conditions: when the women were talking with the desirable partner and when they were talking with the undesirable partner.