The thinner the better: Evidence on the internalization of the slimness ideal in Chinese college students

Kui Wang, Rui Liang, Xinyang Yu, Ho Keung David Shum, David Roalf, Raymond CK Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Internalization of the “thin ideal” is a risk factor for eating pathology. It is unclear how pervasive the thin ideal is among young Chinese. In the current study, 97 participants reported their subjective willingness to be thin and their eating-disorder-related weight-controlling behaviors, and then finished a picture judgment task to implicitly detect their perception of the importance of thinness to attractiveness. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze the data. Among female participants, 79.59% wanted a thinner body. Participants' level of willingness to be thin correlated positively with frequency of eating-disorder-related weight-controlling behaviors, r =.47, p <.05. In the implicit task, the judgment of others' attractiveness correlated negatively with body mass index (BMI) evaluation, and this relationship was stronger for women's pictures than for men's pictures. Additionally, an individual's willingness to be thin enhanced the relationship between BMI evaluation and attractiveness judgment. The notion “the thinner the better” seems to be widely accepted among young Chinese.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalPsyCh Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020


  • attractiveness
  • body dissatisfaction
  • hierarchical linear modeling
  • thin ideal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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