The Potential Benefits of Death Reflection for Improving Women’s Body Image

Jessica Alleva, Melissa Atkinson, S Schwarten, A Theden, M Walkden, Carolien Martijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated death reflection as a novel strategy to improve body image among women. Young adult women (N = 158; Mage = 21.35) completed a death reflection exercise, a death-related active control exercise (to ensure that effects were due to the manner in which women reflected on their death, rather than due to thoughts about death in general), or a non-death-related active control exercise. Participants completed measures of body image at posttest and 1-week follow-up. The women in the death reflection group, compared to the non-death-related control group, experienced higher body weight satisfaction at posttest. Among women higher in beauty orientation, those in the death reflection group experienced higher body shape satisfaction compared to women in the death-related control group. Effects were medium-to-large in magnitude. No group differences were observed for overall appearance satisfaction, appearance importance, broad conceptualisation of beauty, and endorsement of cultural appearance ideals. These findings provide preliminary support for death reflection as a technique to improve some facets of women’s body image. Yet, future research is needed to test whether these effects are replicable and can be extended to other facets of body image.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-200
Number of pages9
JournalBody Image
Early online date9 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020


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