Olivia Grace Grondalski



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With majority of overweight or obese children growing up to be overweight or obese adults, understanding different influences on eating and exercise at an integral transition period into adulthood is paramount. There are several different influences on physical health from genetics to environmental factors, however, the relationship between self-enhancement and weight gain is largely unstudied. The purpose of this proposed longitudinal study is to understand the influences of positive illusions, in the form of self-enhancement, on changes in weight of college students and the role stress plays in this relationship over time. At the beginning of the semester, students will participate in Time 1, and have their height and weight recorded. Body Mass Index will be calculated using the standard equation of weight in kilograms divided by height-squared in centimeters. Then participants will complete a series of questionnaires on the computer that are relevant to the current proposal. These questionnaires include the body dissatisfaction scale to assess perceived body mass index, and self-reported stress. The Body Dissatisfaction Scale (Mutale, Dumm, Stiller, & Larkin, 2016) will be used to assess how the participant perceives their body. Participants are presented with body size images that vary in size. For each body size presented, the weight and BMI have been calculated. The difference between the participant’s actual BMI and their perceived BMI will be calculated. Self-reported stress will be assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, and Mermelstein, 1983). Actual stress will be measured in the form of cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It is hypothesized that students with high self-enhancement, and physiological stress will influence weight gain throughout the semester.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Erin Marie O'Mara

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

Influence of positive illusions and stress on weight gain in college students