Title

Sociocultural Influences on Body Image Across the Lifespan

Date of Award

8-1-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling Psychology & Community Services

Abstract

Body image concerns are prevalent in Western society. Sociocultural theories posit that the media are largely responsible for body image dissatisfaction because they have an omnipresent influence which consistently portrays unrealistically thin females and hyper-muscular males, which are then internalized and used as measures of comparison for the average male or female. This phenomenon has been documented in countless studies with college-age females, but evidence of sociocultural influences on body image satisfaction is not as extensive in males, younger children, or older adults.

This study examined the impact of sociocultural influences on body image satisfaction in two, predominantly Caucasian, populations, boys (n = 48) and girls (n = 68) between the ages of seven and fifteen, and older adult men (n = 109) and women (n = 136) between the ages of 40 and 80. The measures utilized for this investigation included a modified version of the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire-3 and a modified version of the Collins (1991) Child Figure Ratings Scale and the Stunkard and colleagues (1982) Adult Figure Ratings Scale. Two specific hypotheses were investigated, (1) gender differences would be found between boys and girls and between men and women on both the SATAQ-3 and Figure Ratings Scales, and (2) variables such as gender, ages, body mass index, media consumption, and SATAQ-3 scores would predict body image satisfaction outcomes for boys, girls, men, and women. Results largely supported these hypotheses and contributed to gaps in the current literature. Implications and suggestions for theory, practice, and future research based on the findings of the current study are also included.

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