McCabe, M. & Ricciardelli, L. (2003).

September 13, 2017 | Author: P. Noemi | Category: Body Image, Eating Disorder, Adolescence, Puberty, Bulimia Nervosa
Share Embed Donate

Short Description

Psicología Insatisfacción corporal...


The Journal of Social Psychology, 2003, 143{\), 5-26

Sociocultural Influences on Body Image and Body Changes Among Adolescent Boys and Girls MARITA P McCABE LINA A. RICCIARDELLI School of Psychology Deakin University, Victoria, Australia

ABSTRACT. In 2 studies, the authors evaluated the role of parents, peers, and the media in body image and body-change strategies among adolescent boys and girls. The respondents for Study 1 (423 boys and 377 girls) completed the Body Image and Body Change Inventory (L. A. Ricciardelli & M. P. McCabe, 2002) and the Perceived Sociocultural Influences on Body Image and Body Change Questionnaire (M. P McCabe & L. A. Ricciardelli, 2001b). Body mass index and age were also included in the analyses. Regression analyses demonstrated that sociocultural influences and feedback from the participant's best male friend were important predictors for all body-change strategies among boys. For girls, sociocultural influences and feedback from the participant's best female friend and mother were important predictors for body-change strategies. The most consistent predictor of weight loss, weight gain, and strategies to increase muscles was bodyimage importance. In Study 2, the authors examined the influence of the same sociocultural variables, as well as negative affect and puberty on body image and body-change strategies among a second group of 199 boys and 267 girls. The results demonstrated that a broad range of sociocultural influences predicted body-change strategies for boys and girls, with negative affect also having a unique influence for boys but not for girls. Puberty played a minor role, once other sociocultural variables were entered into the regression equation. The implications of these findings are discussed. Key words: adolescence, body image, media influence, parental influence, peer influence, puberty, teenage dieting

ADOLESCENCE is a time of change, and the family and peer groups provide messages to adolescents that shape their behavior in a range of areas. In recent years researchers have increasingly focused on the role of parental, peer, and media in the body image and dieting behaviors of adolescents. One limitation of this research is that it has focused primarily on adolescent girls. The extent to which family, peers, and the media also influence body image and bodychange strategies among boys requires further investigation. In the present

The Journal of Social Psychology

research, we evaluated the influences of feedback by parents, peers, and the media on adolescent boys as well as adolescent girls, and we considered weight-gain strategies and behaviors to increase muscle tone as well as weightloss strategies. Most past research on family influences has evaluated the role of the family (particularly the mother) in predicting various types of weight-loss strategies among their daughters. Very little research has investigated parental influences on the eating behaviors of adolescent boys or explored strategies that may be more relevant to boys (weight gain, muscle increase). The family, particularly the mother, is perceived as the primary socialization agent who transmits messages to adolescents regarding their appearance and eating practices. For example. Pike and Rodin (1991) examined the dieting behaviors of mothers of adolescent girls with disordered eating and found that they were more likely to also have experienced disordered eating than were the mothers of girls who did not experience disordered eating. They were also more likely to believe that their daughters should lose weight. Through modeling and encouragement from their mothers, girls with eating disorders were more likely to be rewarded for engaging in these behaviors than girls who did not experience eating disorders. Likewise, Kent and Clopton (1992) found that bulimic girls were more likely to have family members who also experienced weight and eating problems, and Moreno and Thelen (1993) found that bulimic girls were more likely to have mothers who encouraged them to lose weight and restrict their food intake. Benedikt, Wertheim, and Love (1998) and Paxton et al. (1991) found that mothers' encouragement to diet increased dieting behavior among adolescent girls. Dixon, Adair, and O'Connor (1996) also found that parental encouragement to diet (separate questions were not asked for mother and father) was associated with both body dissatisfaction and dieting behaviors among adolescent girls. However, there was no overall association between the dieting practices of parents and those of adolescent girls, although fathers' dieting behavior was associated with some aspects of their daughters' dieting behaviors. Keel, Heatherton, Hamden, and Homig (1997) also found that although fathers influenced their daughters' body dissatisfaction but not their eating practices, mothers had a greater influence on their daughters' dieting behaviors. In contrast to these findings, Steiger, Stotland, Ghadiriam, and Whitehead (1995) found no difference among binge eaters, dieters, and nondieters in the eating concerns of family members. The authors suggested that rather than an actual eating disturbance, it may be a general tendency toward some form of psychopathology that is associated with eating disturbance among adolescent girls. A follow-up study by Steiger, Stotland, Trottier, and Ghadiriam (1996) Address correspondence to Marita P. McCabe, School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125 Australia; [email protected] (email).

McCabe & Ricciardelli

indicated that there was some association between daughters' and mothers' eating concerns, but that the strongest influence on disordered eating among adolescent girls was psychopathological traits of parents. Other researchers have also reported that parents of eating-disordered adolescents did not differ from control-group parents on dietary restraint or eating disturbances (Evans & le Grange, 1995; Leon, Fulkerson, Perry, & Dube, 1994), although some studies have revealed a relationship between mothers' eating restraint and that of their daughters but not of their sons (Ruther & Richman, 1993; Scourfield, 1995; Thelen & Cormier, 1995). The results from the aforementioned studies demonstrate a lack of clarity in the extent to which mothers and fathers may influence body satisfaction and disturbed eating among adolescent boys and girls, with a particular focus on girls. Furthermore, that research has focused on weight loss but neglected consideration of strategies to gain weight and increase muscle tone. These are strategies that may be particularly relevant to adolescent boys, but the impact of parental feedback on these strategies has not been explored. It is important to determine the nature of the feedback provided to adolescent boys, how it differs from that provided to adolescent girls, and the impact of this feedback on weight gain and strategies to increase muscle, as well as weight loss. Peers also seem to exert some pressure among adolescent girls who adopt extreme weight-loss behaviors. Bulimics report being pressured by their peers to engage in both bingeing and purging (Mitchell, Hatsukami, Pyle, & Eckert, 1986; Stice, Nemeroff, & Shaw, 1996). In contrast, Paxton et al. (1991) claimed that few female friends encouraged dieting, and Gibbs (1986) found that the self-reported number of friends who were currently dieting was not a significant predictor of disordered eating among high school girls. The inconsistency in these findings is probably related to differences in the extent of eating problems among the adolescents in the various studies and to the different measures of disordered eating. A substantial body of literature has evaluated the media's impact on adolescent body image and disordered eating among girls. As for the other sociocultural influences, the media's impact on body dissatisfaction and weight loss among boys has been neglected, as well as the research on weight gain and strategies to increase muscles. Because some boys who are in early adolescence evidence a desire to increase body bulk, but others evidence a desire to increase muscle tone (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2001a), we consider these two dimensions separately. This separation also seems to be important given our limited understanding of body-change strategies adopted by adolescent boys and the confusion in the literature regarding the use of the terms "increase weight" and "increase muscle." As future researchers address this issue, it may become apparent that the two concepts share a substantial amount of variance, but we cannot assume that this is the case. Cusimano and Thompson (1997) found that both awareness of societal pres-

The Journal of Social Psychology

sures and intemalization of social standards of appearance were significant predictors of body image, eating dysfunction, and self-esteem among a group of college women. However, Posavac, Posavac, and Posavac (1998) found in a series of studies that media images were more likely to influence women who already experienced weight concerns, with women with low body dissatisfaction being less likely to respond to media influences. Griffiths and McCabe (2000) found that although perceived views of society predicted body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls, these sociocultural pressures did not predict disordered eating after the researchers accounted for a range of other biological and psychological adjustment variables. Few studies have examined the combined effects of family, peers, and the media within a single research design. In particular, no studies have examined the impact of these variables on adolescent boys and their strategies to increase weight and muscle tone. Levine, Smolak, and Hayden (1994) assessed eating behavior, body satisfaction, and concern about being slender among 385 girls aged 10 to 14 years. The authors found that the media and teasing and criticism by the family were the strongest predictors of body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness. Family and peers, but not the media, were found to be the strongest influences on bulimic symptomatology among young adult women (Stice, 1998). Stice found that this influence took place through social reinforcement and modeling, a finding that is supported by earlier research. Taylor et al. (1998) found that peers were the strongest influence on weight concerns among high school girls, although the media also significantly influenced concerns about weight. Perceived pressure to be thin from family, friends, dating partners, and the media has been shown to be related to bulimic symptoms (Irving, 1990; Stice, Ziemba, Margolis, & Flick, 1996). Most studies have focused on girls and on weight-loss behaviors. Whether the same relationships apply to boys or to other body-change strategies is unclear. Ricciardelli, McCabe, and Banfield (2000) found that parents, siblings, friends, and the media were perceived by about one third of the adolescent boys in their study to have an influence on their feelings about their body and their bodychange strategies. However, there were only 40 participants in this study, so it is not possible to extend the fmdings to adolescent boys in general. Obtaining a better understanding of sociocultural influences on body dissatisfaction and bodychange behaviors among adolescent boys requires inclusion of all the major sociocultural influences—mother, father, best male friend, best female friend, and media—within the single study. It is also vital to investigate the impact of these influences on strategies to increase weight and muscle tone as well as strategies for weight loss, because these are behaviors that are more likely to move boys closer to the ideal body generated by society. It is also important to obtain a clearer picture of the sociocultural messages for adolescent girls in this broader range of body change techniques. Our aim in the present study was to investigate the perceived influence of

McCabe & Ricciardelli

parents, peers, and the media on body image, weight loss, weight gain, and strategies to increase muscle tone on young adolescent boys and girls. STUDY 1 Method Participants The respondents were 800 adolescents (423 boys, 377 girls) who were enrolled in Grades 7-10. The mean age for the boys was 13.92 years (SD = 1.18), and for the girls it was 13.69 {SD - 1.11). These respondents were drawn from six coeducational high schools in Melbourne, Australia. The respondents were largely Anglo-Saxon (77%); the remainder were largely of European descent, and a minority were of Asian descent. Materials All respondents provided demographic information on age, weight, and height. They also completed the Body Image and Body Change Inventory (Ricciardelli & McCabe, 2002) and the Perceived Sociocultural Influences on Body Image and Body Change Questionnaire (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2001b). The Body Image and Body Change Inventory consists of seven scales: Body Image Satisfaction (e.g., "How satisfied are you with your weight?"). Body Image Importance (e.g., "How important is the size of your muscles compared to other things in your life?"); Body Change Strategies to Decrease Weight (e.g., "How often do you eat less to lose weight?"); Body Change Strategies to Increase Weight (e.g., "How often do you exercise more to put on weight?"); Body Change Strategies to Increase Muscle Tone (e.g., "How often do you change your eating to make your muscles bigger?"); Binge Eating (e.g., "How often do you quickly eat a large amount of food?"); and Food Supplements (e.g., "How often do you take food supplements or diet pills to lose weight?"). These scales have been shown to be reliable and valid in a series of four studies using 1,732 adolescent boys and girls. The scales have been subjected to both exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis using oblique rotation. They demonstrate high levels of internal consistency (r > .92), concurrent and discriminant validity, and satisfactory test—retest reliability (r > .75; Ricciardelli & McCabe, 2002). The advantage of these scales over existing measures is that they evaluate areas of body image concern and body-change strategies that have relevance to boys as well as girls (e.g., strategies to increase weight and muscle, use of food supplements). The Perceived Sociocultural Influences on Body Image and Body Change Questionnaire consists of five scales: Feedback From Father, Feedback From Mother, Feedback From Best Male Friend, Feedback From Best Female Friend,


The Journal of Social Psychology

and Media Influences. Each of the four feedback scales has been shown to factor into three subscales assessing general feedback (e.g., "What type of feedback do you receive from your father about the size or shape of your body?"); encouragement, teasing, and behavioral example to gain weight and increase muscle tone (e.g., "Does your mother encourage you to become more muscular?"); and encouragement, teasing, and behavioral example to lose weight and increase muscle tone (e.g., "Does your best male friend try to put on weight?"). Three items that assessed feedback to increase muscle tone loaded with both strategies to gain weight and strategies to lose weight, and so were included in both scales (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2001b). The Media Influences Scale has been shown to form three subscales assessing pressure to lose weight (e.g., "Do you think the media give you the idea that you should exercise more to lose weight?"); pressure to gain weight (e.g., "Do you think the media give you the idea that you should eat more to gain weight?"); and pressure to increase muscle tone (e.g., "Do you think the media give you the idea you should be more muscular?"). All of these scales have demonstrated high levels of internal consistency (r > .84) and have been subject to both exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis using oblique rotation (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2001b). The advantage of these scales over existing measures is that they evaluate the role of a number of possible sociocultural influences within one questionnaire, and they also evaluate the extent to which these sociocultural infiuences are perceived to generate messages that relate to increasing weight and muscles as well as losing weight. Procedure Permission was received from the Department of Education for high schools within the State of Victoria to participate in a study of body image and bodychange techniques among adolescent boys and girls. Parental consent and student consent were both obtained before respondents completed the questionnaire. All but 2% of the respondents who were asked to take part in the study agreed to do so. The questionnaire was completed during a single class period. Results and Discussion An examination of the responses to the Perceived Sociocultural Influences on Body Image and Body Change Questionnaire indicated that there was a great deal of consistency in the perceived messages received from mother, father, best male friend, and best female friend in relation to each of the body-change strategies. Therefore, the messages regarding eating and exercise from these four sociocultural infiuences were combined to form new scales that evaluated perceived pressures to lose weight, gain weight, and increase muscle tone. The alpha coefficients for these new scales were as follows: decrease weight (boys a = .80; girls a - .74); increase weight (boys a = .83; girls a - .72); increase muscle (boys a =

McCabe & Ricciardelli


.78; girls a = .73). The intercorrelations between each of these new perceived sociocultural influences were as follows: decrease weight with increase weight {r = .23), decrease weight with increase muscle {r = .45), and increase weight with increase muscle (r = .49). The three general feedback items regarding body size and shape for each of the four sociocultural influences were retained as separate scales, because the general feedback about body showed lower correlations with each of the sociocultural infiuences (r < .29). The Media Infiuences Scale was separated into three subscales assessing perceived pressure from the media to decrease weight, perceived pressure from the media to increase weight, and perceived pressure from the media to increase muscles. Seven standard multiple regression analyses were conducted separately for boys and girls to examine the infiuence of parents, peers, and the media on body image and body-change strategies. The dependent variables were body-image satisfaction, body-image importance, strategies to decrease weight, strategies to increase weight, strategies to increase muscle tone, binge eating, and food supplements. The independent variables for each analysis were age, body mass index (BMI), feedback from mother, feedback from father, feedback from best male friend, feedback from best female friend, sociocultural infiuences to increase weight, sociocultural infiuences to decrease weight, sociocultural infiuences to increase muscles, media pressure to lose weight, media pressure to gain weight, and media pressure to increase muscle tone. For each of the body-change strategies, body-image importance and body-image satisfaction were also entered into the regression equations. Body-image importance was also included in the bodyimage-satisfaction equations, and body-image satisfaction was included in the body-image-importance equations. Summaries of the regression equations for boys and girls are contained in Tables 1 and 2. Only significant predictors are included in those tables, although all variables were included in the regression equations. The results demonstrate that the sociocultural variables more frequently predicted body image and bodychange strategies than did the biological variables of age and BMI, although these biological variables played a greater role for boys than for girls. For boys, age was a unique predictor for body-image satisfaction and strategies to decrease weight, and BMI was also a unique predictor for strategies to decrease weight, as well as for the use of food supplements. The only significant relationship for girls was where BMI uniquely predicted levels of body-image satisfaction. Overall, the sociocultural variables included in this study explained a minimum to moderate amount of the variance in body image and body-change strategies among adolescent boys or girls (between 9% and 46% of the variance). Perceived sociocultural pressures played a unique role in predicting all of the body image and body-change strategies for adolescent boys and girls, except for binge eating for adolescent boys. The sociocultural pressures that appeared to have most infiuence for boys were those directed at increasing weight and, particularly, increasing muscle. Pressures to decrease weight uniquely predicted


The Journal of Social Psychology

TABLE 1 Summary of Regression Analyses for Boys, Study 1 Dependent variable



5.17*** (13, 409)



3.05*** (13, 409)


Decrease weight

Increase weight

Increase muscles

Binge eating Food supplements

15.21***(14, 408)

10.11 * * * (14, 408)

8.40*** (14, 408)

3.41*** (14, 408) 8.09*** (14, 408)

Note. BMI = body mass index.

View more...


Copyright ©2017 KUPDF Inc.