Vulnerability to Interpersonal Rejection Based on Appearance in Body Positive and Pro-Anorexic Online Communities



Objective. We aimed to analyze vulnerabilities to interpersonal rejection based on appearance in female participants of body positive and pro-anorexic online communities.
Background. The recent years has seen a rapid development of online communities focused on physical attractiveness. In the current paper two large segments of Russian-speaking online communities (body positive and pro-anorexic ones) are used to analyze the relationships between appearance-based rejection sensitivity, global self-esteem, personality traits, and body dissatisfaction.
Study design. The participants were surveyed in June–August 2020, online, in Google Forms. Invitations were posted in body positive and pro-anorexic online communities. Data analysis included Student’s t test, and correlation, regression and mediation analysis.
Participants. 562 adolescent girls and young women aged 15–30 (mean age – 21,06 ± 4,15; median – 21). Measures. The following measures were used: Appearance-based Rejection Sensitivity Scale (augmented by Social Comparisons based on Appearance survey), Body Image Questionnaire, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and Ten Item Personality Measure.
Results. Female participants of pro-anorexic online-communities displayed increased body dissatisfaction, appearance-based rejection sensitivity and neuroticism. They were more prone to explicitly compare their appearance with others and experienced more negative emotions in relation to this. Body positive communities’ participants reported more conscientiousness and emotional stability, and they made more implicit comparisons aimed at getting information about their appearance from social/interpersonal context. Global self-esteem and social comparisons partially mediated the relationship between appearance-based rejection sensitivity and body dissatisfaction.
Summary. Interpersonal sensitivity and self-esteem emerge as common risk factors of body dissatisfaction, whereas social comparisons (in terms of appearance) differentiate the participants of body positive and pro-anorexic communities.

General Information

Keywords: pro-ana, pro-mia, bopo, body positive online communities, pro-anorexic online communities, appearance-based rejection sensitivity, appearance comparisons, personality traits, body dissatisfaction

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 20-013-00429.

Received: 24.01.2022


For citation: Polskaya N.A., Yakubovskaya D.K., Razvaliaeva A.Y. Vulnerability to Interpersonal Rejection Based on Appearance in Body Positive and Pro-Anorexic Online Communities. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2023. Vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 150–171. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2023140109. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Natalia A. Polskaya, Doctor of Psychology, Associate Professor, Professor of the Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Department, Faculty of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Leading Researcher, Scientific and Practical Center for Mental Health of Children and Adolescents named after G.E. Sukhareva of the Moscow Department of Public Health, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Daria K. Yakubovskaya, Student, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Anna Y. Razvaliaeva, PhD in Psychology, Researcher, Laboratory of Cognitive Processes and Mathematical Psychology, Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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