The Effect of Parental Warmth on Girls’ Drive for Thinness: Do Both Parents Matter?
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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.
KeywordsBody image Drive for thinness Parental warmth Parental pressure to be thin Adolescent girls
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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