The Effects of Discourse on Pediatric Health Outcomes: The Moderating Role of Child Sex

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Virginia Tech

Implicit theories are frameworks that allow an individual to conceptualize the world (Levy, Chiu, & Hong, 2006; Plaks, Levy, & Dweck, 2009). Incremental implicit theories assert humans as dynamic entities, capable of change, whereas entity implicit theories assert that humans are rigid, static, and incapable of change (Dweck, 1999). The present study examined entity and incremental themes in parent child discourse about weight related health decisions. Incremental themes are expected to be related to better pediatric health outcomes (BMI, physical activity, diet, and body image). A moderation model is proposed whereby links between parent child discourse and pediatric health outcomes, specifically body image, will be stronger for boys than girls. Moderation by sex was expected because parents may communicate differently to their children as a function of sex. Cultural ideals have much more stringent evaluations of women than men do and this may be reflected in communications involving parents and children. There were no significant mean-level differences in body image scores and parents' use of entity and incremental themes according to child sex. Additionally, parents use of entity and incremental themes did not predict any of the children's health-related outcomes. These results may indicate that child sex may not be the best predictor of parents' communications concerning children's weight-related decisions.

parent-child discourse, implicit theories, pediatric obesity, body image