Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Recent covariance structural equation modeling investigations have begun to examine factors thought to play a role in body image dissatisfaction and eating disturbance (Thompson et al., 1999). The current investigation extended this line of research using structural equation modeling to examine a tripartite model of body image dissatisfaction. Female participants (N = 200) completed an informed consent, the Survey of Background Information, the Body Comparison Scale, the Restraint Scale, the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire, the Body Esteem Scale-Revised, the Inventory of Peer Influence on Eating Concerns, the Perception of Teasing Scale, the Eating Disorders Inventory, the Parent Involvement Scale, the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Scale-Revised, the Perceived Sociocultural Pressure Scale, and the Symptoms Checklist 90-Revised.

In addition, a laboratory-based, controlled experiment was used to investigate the role of social comparison in the development of body image dissatisfaction resulting from exposure to media images of thinness and attractiveness. Based on responses to the Body Comparison Scale, two groups of women were identified from the original sample: those with a high pre-existing tendency to engage in social comparison (n = 30) and those with a low pre-existing tendency to engage in social comparison (n = 30). After completing a Survey of Background Information, half of each group of women watched commercials that epitomized societal ideals of thinness and attractiveness; whereas, half of each group of women viewed commercials that did not focus on appearance. Upon completion of the commercial video clips, each participant completed the Eating Disorders Inventory and the Body Comparison Scale.

The present study did not support the tripartite models of body image dissatisfaction, as the data did not adequately fit either of the two proposed models. However, the data did support an alternative multidimensional model of body image disturbance and several of the specific hypothesized effects. Analyses examining the effects of the type of video viewed on social comparison yielded significant between-group differences, but failed to yield significant interactions between women’s pre-existing tendency to engage in social comparison and the type of video viewed across the two assessments. Further, analyses examining the role of social comparison in body image dissatisfaction yielded significant interactions for video condition by pre-post trial and social comparison by pre-post trial.