Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)




Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology

Committee Director

Barbara A. Winstead

Committee Member

Robin J. Lewis

Committee Member

Richard Handel

Committee Member

Louis Janda

Committee Member

Desideria S. Hacker


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the study of social and interpersonal factors that influence emotional adjustment and body image. Co-rumination is a new construct in the friendship literature which refers to discussing problems excessively and sharing negative feelings within the context of a close relationship. However, there is a lack of research with regard to the specific content of co-ruminative dialogues. In the body image literature, the term "fat talk" was coined to describe a negative, appearance focused dialogue that takes place in the context of female social circles. There have been no studies examining the "fat talk" phenomenon within the context of close female friendships. The present study attempted to unite the relatively new constructs of co-rumination and fat talk, while making unique contributions to their respective literatures. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of appearance-specific co-rumination (i.e., fat talk between friends; FTBF), specifically as it relates to women's body image, emotional adjustment, and friendship quality. A total of 209 women from Old Dominion University completed an online battery of questionnaires. The results revealed that FTBF was related to body image cognitive distortions and disturbed eating attitudes, yet it was paradoxically related to perceived friendship quality. These findings suggest that FTBF involves adjustment trade-offs, in that, it seems to positively contribute to friendship quality while negatively impacting one's appearance-related cognitions and eating attitudes. Interestingly, FTBF was not found to be associated with appearance evaluation, appearance investment, self-esteem, or depression. In addition to these results, exploratory analyses were conducted to examine the differences between FTBF and non-ruminative fat talk (i.e., normative fat talk). These discrepancies were evaluated and discussed, especially with respect to limitations and future directions for research.


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.


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