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J Soc Psychol. 1997 Dec;137(6):708-27.

The influence of societal factors on female body image.

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School of Psychology, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia.


This study was designed to identify factors associated with the perceptual and attitudinal components of female body image. The influence of society and factors thought to mediate the relationship between body image and society (field dependence, locus of control, and self-esteem) were investigated. Age and body mass index (BMI) were also included as independent variables. A total of 101 female university students in Australia ranging in age from 18 to 55 years (M = 24.11) participated in the study. A video camera apparatus (VCA) was used to assess perceptual distortion of body size. The VCA, the Body Esteem Scale, and the Appearance Evaluation subscale of the Multidimensional Body Self Relations Questionnaire were used to assess body satisfaction. On average, women underestimated their body sizes by 4%, and they typically wanted to be smaller than their actual body sizes. About two fifths of the women expressed moderate to strong negative feelings about both individual body parts and their bodies as a whole. Multiple regression analyses revealed that perceptual distortion of body size could not be predicted from the independent variables. Body satisfaction was best explained by societal factors, self-esteem, and BMI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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