Regular readers will know of the ground-breaking work done by Dr Keon West of Goldsmith’s University and how his research showed that being naked boosts self-esteem, happiness and life satisfaction.
Last summer, with administrative assistance and some funding from British Naturism, Dr. Keon hosted part II of the work and tested whether similar results could be achieved with people who weren’t attending a specific nude event or gathering.
The results have now been peer reviewed and published in full. They are in an academic journal and currently behind a paywall, but BN member Nick Mayhew-Smith has looked through the article, and has produced a short summary of the experiment and the positive conclusions it reached, copied in below:
So for the first time it was possible to test whether communal naked activity leads to rather than merely accompanies improvements in body image (Body Appreciation). And body image was measured before and after the trial took place.
In total 51 participants arrived for the experiment, half of whom spent 45 minutes socializing with clothes on (the control group), the other half doing the same naked. The sexes were roughly balanced (27 men, 24 women) and also each of the two groups (control and naked) had approximately the same proportion of women and men. The participants were told in advance that the experience had a potential for experiencing communal nudity, which could introduce a slight bias in the findings but this was offset by the fact that they were non-naturist identified and also that they were split into two randomized groups following their recruitment for the study.
The experiment also measured Relative Perceived Attractiveness of Others and Social Physique Anxiety, partly in order to determine where the effect of changes in body image might have been mediated.
Dr. Keon used the same body appreciation scale described in his 2018 paper, and measurements before and after the experiment showed a clear and significant difference between the naked group and the clothed group. For the clothed group, 45 minutes spent socializing with clothes on made no statistical difference to their levels of body appreciation, but it was measurably higher (on the scale used roughly 3.3 to 3.8) in the naked group.
The second measure Relative Perceived Attractiveness of Others demonstrated that nakedness had no effect, but as might be expected Social Physique Anxiety was significantly reduced in the naked group. A reduction in Social Physique Anxiety was therefore determined as a possible explanation for why naked socializing has a positive effect on Body Appreciation. In other words, improvement in body image could not simply be produced by seeing other people naked in a non-participatory way.
The participants were all happy to engage in the experiment once they were given their instructions, whether naked or clothed. And there were no differences in the responses between men and women or between different age ranges. A total of 90% of the participants were white, the others South Asian (2%), East Asian (2%), Middle Eastern (2%) or mixed ethnicity (4%).