Picture of Dr. David FrederickAssociate Professor of Psychology, Dr. David Frederick has just completed the largest national study on body image satisfaction ever conducted. Known as the U.S. National Body Project I, the study brought together dozens of experts on body image  and included approximately 11,620 participants. Findings are soon to be published in a special issue of the scientific journal Body Image. Dr. Frederick has just received word that his grant proposal for an even larger study, the U.S. National Body Project II, has just been awarded $100,000.00 from the Kay Family Foundation. Nineteen proposals were submitted in total. Dr. Frederick’s was one of five to receive funding.

About the Study

People who are dissatisfied with their appearance exhibit more disordered eating patterns and unhealthy body modification techniques, report greater dissatisfaction with life, greater discomfort with sexual intimacy, more interest in cosmetic surgery, and increased supplement and diet pill abuse.  These negative psychological and physical effects of body image disturbances make it critical to understand the prevalence and predictors of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, and to identify groups at greatest risk for experiencing dissatisfaction. 

Almost all the current research in this area relies on a limited set of statistical analyses (e.g., linear regression) rather than advanced techniques such as structural equation modelling, machine learning, and deep learning. Initial machine learning analyses conducted on the U.S. National Body Project I by graduate students in the Chapman’s Computation and Data Science graduate program (CADS) have shown the value of these approaches. They identify clusters of people at heightened risk for disordered eating, identify the differences between demographic groups in multidimensional space, and identify the psychological factors that are most strongly linked to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

The quality of the data combined with the expertise of the researchers uniquely positions the Chapman team to be the first to use deep learning to understand underlying patterns in body image data.

The Team

Dr. Frederick will serve as the principal investigator (PI) on the study. Co-principal investigators are Chapman University professors Dr. Eric Linstead of Schmid College of Science and Technology, Dr. Vinnie Berardi of Crean College of Health & Behavioral Sciences (CHBS), and Dr. Uri Maoz of the The Brain Institute, all of whom have extensive expertise in advanced machine learning approaches. Co-investigators are Ohio State University’s Dr. Tracy Tylka, (editor-in-chief of Body Image), Dr. Justin Garcia, Acting Executive Director of the famed Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and scientific advisor to dating company Match.com and Dr. Tania Reynolds a postdoctoral scientist at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University

Both graduate and undergraduate students at Chapman will provide data analysis and other support. They are:

  • Natalia Rosenfield, Graduate Student, CADS
  • Elia Eiroa Lledo, Graduate Student, CADS
  • Dehua (Andy) Liang, Graduate Student, CADS
  • Ali Nakashima, Undergraduate Student, Psychology
  • Emily Rauchut, Undergraduate Student, Psychology
  • Skye Sakashita, Undergraduate Student, Psychology
  • Tori Marohn, Undergraduate Student, Psychology
  • Cassidy Best, Undergraduate Student, Psycholoy
  • Ro Cunningham, Undergraduate Student, Psychology

Undergraduate students, Nakashima, Rauchut, Sakashita, and Marohn presented results from their work on the National Body Project I at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference last year.

We congratulate the entire team and look forward to reading the results of the U.S. National Body Project II!