Developmental changes in the female adolescent body image
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The present study investigated hypothesized links between subjects' perceptions of their own physical appearance and other aspects of psychosocial functioning (e.g., general anxiety, social acceptance, athletic competence, and global self-worth) as rated by self, peers, and counselors. In addition, the study attempted to isolate the age at which young females first experience a decline in perceptions of their own physical appearance. To investigate these relationships, 554 females (ages 7-18) attending a summer camp completed the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter, 1985) or the Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (Harter, 1988), a sociometric friendship rating scale, and the Revised Manifest Children's Anxiety Scale (Reynolds and Richmond, 1978). In addition, camp counselors completed the Teacher's Behavior Rating Scale (Harter, 1985, 1988) for each subject.
Results indicated that 45% of the variance in the subjects' ratings of their own physical appearance was accounted for by age, ratings of global self-worth, anxiety, social acceptance as rated by the subjects, and athletic competence as rated by the counselors. The first significant decrease in body image occurred between the ages of 12 and 13.
Although there are several limitations with respect to cross-sectional designs, it may still be useful to conceptualize the possible psychosocial changes that occur during adolescence within a developmental-contextual model. This study does not purport to demonstrate bidirectional interactions and does not allow for a definitive interpretation of the results with respect to developmental patterns; however, the developmental-contextual model is suggested as a possible framework for understanding the development of body image, and is in need of further comprehensive investigation. In addition to past research, this study may contribute to speculation about when intervention programs may be useful in order to prevent the development of related psychological disorders.
- Masters Theses