Objectives: Mindfulness-based interventions have shown effectiveness in reducing risk factors for disordered eating; however, little is known about mechanisms. This online study evaluated two isolated metacognitive components of mindfulness, adopting a decentered or non-judgemental stance towards internal experiences, respectively, for reducing body dissatisfaction and negative affect. Methods: Women (N = 330, Mage = 25.18, SD = 4.44) viewed appearance-ideal media images before listening to a 5-minute audio recording that guided them to (a) distance themselves from their experience (decentering), (b) accept their experience without judgement (non-judgement), or (c) rest (active control). Participants reported state body dissatisfaction and negative affect at baseline, post-media exposure, and final assessment. Trait measurements (weight and shape concerns, mindfulness, emotion regulation) were assessed as potential moderators. Participants self-reported engagement and acceptability. Results: All groups reported significant reductions in body dissatisfaction and negative affect following the recording (d = 0.15–0.38, p < .001), with no between-group differences. Trait measurements did not moderate effects. Conclusions: The results suggest rest was as effective as the metacognitive components in ameliorating immediate negative impacts of appearance-related threats. Alternatively, coping strategies spontaneously adopted by the control group may have supplied temporary relief. Findings highlight the importance of including suitable control; further research should investigate when and for whom specific aspects of mindfulness-based interventions may be particularly helpful.
- Feeding and eating disorders
- Body dissatisfaction
- Negative affect
- Primary prevention
- Early intervention
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