Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 182–191 | Cite as

The Effect of Parental Warmth on Girls’ Drive for Thinness: Do Both Parents Matter?

  • Maegan E. Jones
  • Elizabeth H. Blodgett Salafia
  • Brent D. Hill
Original Paper


Research has suggested that both maternal and paternal warmth play a role in the development of drive for thinness (DFT) in girls, yet parents have only been examined as unique predictors, or as one unit; therefore, we sought to investigate how maternal and paternal warmth combined to affect girls’ DFT. Furthermore, until the present study, the effect of parental warmth on parental pressure to be thin was unstudied. Using self-reports from 115 females (ages 12–19), we were able to determine the impact of parental warmth and pressure to be thin on girls’ DFT, dependent on whether parents had similar or differing warmth levels. Parental warmth was measured using the Care subscale of the Parental Bonding Instrument, parental pressure to be thin was measured using an adapted version of the Perceived Sociocultural Pressure Scale, and DFT was measured using the DFT subscale of the Eating Disorders Inventory. Results indicated that when parents had differing levels of warmth, the relationship between warmth and DFT was fully mediated by pressure to be thin. However, when parents had similar warmth, there was a remaining direct effect between parental warmth and girls’ DFT, indicating partial mediation. In addition, not only was parental warmth negatively associated with parental pressure, but when both parents had high warmth, girls were less affected by pressure. These findings suggest that having two parents who are high in warmth may serve as a protective factor against DFT in adolescent girls, both directly via less DFT in general, and indirectly by lowering the impact of parental pressure.


Body image Drive for thinness Parental warmth Parental pressure to be thin Adolescent girls 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family Science #2615North Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  2. 2.School of Education, #2625North Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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