Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Amy Heard

Training Track: Clinical 
Lab: Activity Matters Lab  
Advisor: Amy Bohnert, Ph.D. 
Office: Coffey 228


My research focuses on the biological, social, and environmental factors contributing to the prevention and treatment of obesity and disordered eating.  

Masters Thesis Title

The relation between appearance evaluation and disordered throughout college: Trajectories and moderators

Masters Thesis Abstract

The college years are a time of increased risk for body image concerns and disordered eating attitudes in both men and women. Studies have shown that body image concerns may emerge in childhood, increase throughout adolescence, and become more stable in middle adulthood, but less is known about the changes that happen during the college years that may cause these concerns to level off. One of the most common ways of assessing body image is by measuring appearance evaluation, or global satisfaction with appearance. While problematic appearance evaluation and disordered eating attitudes are often associated with one another, all individuals who are dissatisfied with their appearance do not go on to develop an eating disorder. This may be due to moderating factors such as mindfulness and emotion regulation, specifically expressive suppression of emotions. The current study draws on a longitudinal sample of first through fourth year college students assessed on measures of psychosocial functioning, including body image, disordered eating attitudes, mindfulness, and expressive suppression. This study found that while appearance evaluation was stable across the college years, disordered eating attitudes increased during that time period. Over the course of college, appearance evaluation significantly predicted disordered eating attitudes, and the inverse relation was also significant at a trend level. However, mindfulness and expressive suppression were not predictive of disordered eating attitudes. Likewise, they did not impact the relation between appearance evaluation and disordered eating attitudes. These results demonstrate the importance of designing disordered eating interventions that span the entire course of college and have implications for the current literature on the link between mindfulness, emotion regulation, and disordered eating attitudes. 

Masters Thesis Committee

Amy Bohnert and Colleen Conley