Appearance feedback in intimate relationships: The role of self-verification and self-enhancement Academic Article uri icon


  • To better understand how body image operates within the context of intimate relationships, we investigated women's responses to appearance feedback from an intimate partner. Participants (N=192) imagined receiving feedback from their partner that was either consistent with their own appearance self-view (i.e., self-verifying), more positive (i.e., self-enhancing), or less positive (i.e., devaluing), and then provided their affective and cognitive reactions. As expected, women's perceptions of their own appearance moderated their reactions. Women with more negative self-views felt happier with enhancing feedback, but thought that it meant their partner understood them less well. They also felt less happy when they received verifying feedback, but felt more understood by their partners. Thus, women with body image dissatisfaction may find themselves stuck in the "cognitive-affective crossfire" reacting ambivalently whether their partner enhances their appearance or confirms their negative self-views. Further examination of partners' actual feedback is needed.

publication date

  • January 2013