Genetic and environmental influences on thin-ideal internalization

Jessica L. Suisman, Shannon M. O'Connor, Steffanie Sperry, J. Kevin Thompson, Pamela K. Keel, S. Alexandra Burt, Michael Neale, Steven Boker, Cheryl Sisk, Kelly L. Klump

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: Current research on the etiology of thin-ideal internalization focuses on psychosocial influences (e.g., media exposure). The possibility that genetic influences also account for variance in thin-ideal internalization has never been directly examined. This study used a twin design to estimate genetic effects on thin-ideal internalization and examine if environmental influences are primarily shared or nonshared in origin. Method: Participants were 343 postpubertal female twins (ages: 12-22 years; M = 17.61) from the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Thin-ideal internalization was assessed using the Sociocultural Attitudes toward Appearance Questionnaire-3. Results: Twin modeling suggested significant additive genetic and nonshared environmental influences on thin-ideal internalization. Shared environmental influences were small and non-significant. Discussion: Although prior research focused on psychosocial factors, genetic influences on thin-ideal internalization were significant and moderate in magnitude. Research is needed to investigate possible interplay between genetic and nonshared environmental factors in the development of thin-ideal internalization. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-948
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Tripartite Model
  • body image
  • disordered eating
  • heritability
  • internalization
  • thin-ideal
  • twin study


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