Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 44, Issue 9–10, pp 557–569 | Cite as

Social Cognitive Predictors of Body Image in Preschool Children

  • Helen M. Hendy
  • Cheryl Gustitus
  • Jamie Leitzel-Schwalm
Article

Abstract

To better understand origins of gender differences in body confidence, the present study examines predictors of body image suggested by Social Cognitive Theory (A. Bandura, 1997): models (from mothers, peers), verbal messages (from mothers, peers, teachers), physiological factors (age, body mass, health status), and experience of competence related to body image (social competence, food competence). Variables were gathered from child interviews, mother questionnaires, and teacher questionnaires for 94 preschool children (52 boys, 42 girls; mean age – 54.2 months; 90.2% Caucasian). Body image was measured with seven same-gender silhouettes (M. E. Collins, 1991). No gender differences were found for the body image of preschool children. Messages from the mother to “be bigger” were the most consistent predictor of body image. However, only for boys were mother's messages a valid reflection of the child's actual body mass, which if continued, could produce greater body confusion for girls at later ages.

Keywords

Health Status Gender Difference Social Psychology Body Image Preschool Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Albertini, R. S., & Phillips, K.A. (1999). Thirty-three cases of body dysmorphic disorder in children and adolescents. Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 453–459.Google Scholar
  2. Allison, D. B. (Ed.). (1995). Handbook of assessment methods for eating behaviors and weightrelated problems: Measures, theory, and research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Asci, F. H., Kin, A., & Kosar, S. N. (1998). Effect of participation in an eight week aerobic dance and step aerobics program on physical self-perception and body image satisfaction. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 29, 366–375.Google Scholar
  4. Babbitt, R. L., Edlen-Nezin, L., Manikam, R., Summers, J. A., & Murphy, C. M. (1995). Assessment of eating and weight-related problems in children and special populations. In D. B. Allison (Ed.), Handbook of assessment methods for eating behaviors and weightrelated problems: Measures, theory, and research (pp. 431–492). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Baker, C. W., Whisman, M. A., & Brownell, K. D. (2000). Study of inter-generational transmission of eating attitudes and behavior: Methodological and conceptual questions. Health Psychology, 19, 376–381.Google Scholar
  6. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  7. Botta, R. A. (1999). Television images and adolescent girls' body image disturbance. Journal of Communication, 49, 22–41.Google Scholar
  8. Butters, J. W., & Cash, T. F. (1987). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of women's body-image dissatisfaction. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 889–897.Google Scholar
  9. Cash, T. F. (1996). The treatment of body image disturbances. In J. K. Thompson (Ed.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity (pp. 83–108). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  10. Collins, M. E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among preadolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10, 199–208.Google Scholar
  11. Connolly, J., & Doyle, A. (1981). Assessment of social competence in preschoolers: Teachers versus peers. Developmental Psychology, 17, 454–462.Google Scholar
  12. Cusumano, D. L., & Thompson, J. K. (1997). Body image and body shape ideals in magazines: Exposure, awareness, and internalization. Sex Roles, 37, 701–721.Google Scholar
  13. Davis, C., & Cowles, M. (1991). Body image and exercise: A study of relationships and comparisons between physically active men and women. Sex Roles, 25, 33–44.Google Scholar
  14. Davis, C., Durnin, J. V. G. A., Dionne, M., & Gurevich, M. (1994). The influence of body fat content and bone diameter measurements on body dissatisfaction in adult women. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 15, 257–263.Google Scholar
  15. Edlund, B., Halvarsson, K., Gebre-Medhin, M., & Sjoden, P. (1999). Psychological correlates of dieting in Swedish adolescents: A cross-sectional study. European Eating Disorders Review, 7, 47–61.Google Scholar
  16. Falconer, J. W., & Neville, H. A. (2000). African-American college women's body image. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 236–243.Google Scholar
  17. Fisher, E., & Thompson, J. K. (1994). A comparative evaluation of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) versus exercise therapy (ET) for the treatment of body image disturbance: Preliminary findings. Behavior Modification, 18, 171–185.Google Scholar
  18. Gardner, R. M., Sorter, R. G., & Friedman, B. N. (1997). Developmental changes in children's body images. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 12, 1019–1036.Google Scholar
  19. Harrison, K., & Cantor, J. (1997). The relationship between media consumption and eating disorders. Journal of Communication, 47, 40–67.Google Scholar
  20. Heatherton, T. F., Mahamedi, F., Striepe, M., Field, A. E., & Keel, P. (1997). A 10-year longitudinal study of body weight, dieting, and eating disorder symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 117–125.Google Scholar
  21. Holmes, T., Chamberlin, P., & Young, M. (1994). Relations of exercise to body image and sexual desirability among a sample of university students. Psychological Reports, 74, 920–922.Google Scholar
  22. Kennedy, C., Reis, J., Bane, S., & Stang, J. (1995). A comparison of body image perceptions of exercising and non-exercising college students. Wellness Perspective: Research, Theory, and Practice, 11, 3–15.Google Scholar
  23. Kirkpatrick, S. W., & Sanders, D. M. (1978). Body image stereotypes: A developmental comparison. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 132, 87–95.Google Scholar
  24. Klesges, R. C., Coates, T. J., Brown, G., Sturgeon-Tillisch, J., Moldenhauer-Klesges, L. M., Holzer, B., Woolfrey, J., & Vollmer, J. (1983). Parental influences on children's eating behavior and relative weight. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 16, 371–378.Google Scholar
  25. Lavine, H., Sweeney, D., & Wagner, S. H. (1999). Depicting women as sex objects in television advertising: Effects on body dissatisfaction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 1049–1058.Google Scholar
  26. Leonhard, M. L., & Barry, N. J. (1998). Body image and obesity: Effects of gender and weight on perceptual measures of body image. Addictive Behaviors, 23, 31–34.Google Scholar
  27. McIntosh, W. A., & Zey, M. (1989). Women as gatekeepers of food consumption: Asociological critique. Food and Foodways, 34, 317–332.Google Scholar
  28. Moreno, A., & Thelen, M. H. (1993). Parental factors related to bulimia nervosa. Addictive Behaviors, 18, 681–689.Google Scholar
  29. Noll, S. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). A mediational model linking self-objectification, body shame, and disordered eating. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 623–636.Google Scholar
  30. Oates-Johnson, T., & DeCourville, N. (1999). Weight preoccupation, personality, and depression in university students: An interactionist perspective. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55, 1157–1166.Google Scholar
  31. O'Leary, A. (1985). Self-efficacy and health. Behavior Research and Theory, 23, 437–451.Google Scholar
  32. Oliver, K. K., & Thelen, M. H. (1996). Children's perceptions of peer influence on eating concerns. Behavior Therapy, 27, 25–39.Google Scholar
  33. Paxton, S. J. (1993). A prevention program for disturbed eating and body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls: A one year follow-up. Health Education Research, 8, 43–51.Google Scholar
  34. Pike, K. M., & Rodin, J. (1991). Mothers, daughters, and disordered eating. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 198–204.Google Scholar
  35. Pliner, P., Chaiken, S., & Flett, G. L. (1990). Gender differences in concern with body weight and physical appearance over the life span. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 16, 263–273.Google Scholar
  36. Posavac, H. D., Posavac, S. S., & Posavac, E. J. (1998). Exposure to media images of female attractiveness and concern with body weight among young women. Sex Roles, 38, 187–201.Google Scholar
  37. Rauste von Wright, M. (1989). Body image satisfaction in adolescent girls and boys: A longitudinal study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 18, 71–83.Google Scholar
  38. Rodriguez-Tome, H., Bariaud, F., Cohen-Zardi, M. F., Delmas, C., Jeanvoine, B., & Szylagyi, P. (1993). The effects of pubertal changes on body image and relations with peers of the opposite sex in adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 16, 421–438.Google Scholar
  39. Rydell, A., Hagekull, B., & Bohlin, G. (1997). Measurement of two social competence aspects in middle childhood. Developmental Psychology, 33, 824–833.Google Scholar
  40. Sands, R., Tricker, J., Sherman, C., Armatas, C., & Maschette, W. (1997). Disordered eating patterns, body image, self-esteem, and physical activity in preadolescent school children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 21, 159–166.Google Scholar
  41. Shapiro, S., Newcomb, M., & Loeb, T. B. (1997). Fear of fat, disregulated-restrained eating, and body-esteem: Prevalence and gender differences among eight-to-ten-year old children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 26, 358–365.Google Scholar
  42. Shisslak, C. M., Crago, M., McKnight, K. M., Estes, L. S., Gray, N., & Parnaby, O. G. (1998). Potential risk factors associated with weight control behaviors in elementary and middle school girls. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 44, 301–313.Google Scholar
  43. Smolak, L., Levine, M. P., & Schermer, F. (1998). A controlled evaluation of an elementary school primary prevention program for eating problems. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 44, 339–353.Google Scholar
  44. Smolak, L., Levine, M. P., & Schermer, F. (1999). Parental input and weight concerns among elementary school children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 25, 263–271.Google Scholar
  45. Springer, E. A., Winzelberg, A. J., Perkins, R., & Taylor, C. B. (1999). Effects of a body image curriculum for college students on improved body image. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 26, 13–20.Google Scholar
  46. Stager, S. F., & Burke, P. J. (1982). A reexamination of body build stereotypes. Journal of Research in Personality, 16, 435–446.Google Scholar
  47. Stein, R. J., Bracken, B. A., Haddock, C. K., & Shadish, W. R. (1998). Preliminary development of the Children's Physical Self-Concept Scale. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 19, 1–8.Google Scholar
  48. Stormer, S. M., & Thompson, J. K. (1996). Explanations of body image disturbance: A test of maturational status, negative verbal commentary, social comparison, and sociocultural hypotheses. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 19, 193–202.Google Scholar
  49. Strecher, V. J., DeVellis, B. M., Becker, M. H., & Rosenstock, I. M. (1986). The role of selfefficacy in achieving health behavior change. Health Education Quarterly, 13, 73–92.Google Scholar
  50. Striegel-Moore, R. H., & Kearney-Cooke, A. (1994). Exploring parent's attitudes and behaviors about their children's physical appearance. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 15, 377–385.Google Scholar
  51. Tantleff-Dunn, S., & Thompson, J. K. (1995). Romantic partners and body image disturbance: Further evidence for the role of perceived-actual disparities. Sex Roles, 33, 589–605.Google Scholar
  52. Thelen, M. H., & Cormier, J. F. (1995). Desire to be thinner and weight control among children and their parents. Behavior Therapy, 24, 85–99.Google Scholar
  53. Thelen, M. H., Powell, A. L., Lawrence, C., & Kuhnert, M. E. (1992). Eating and body image concerns among children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 21, 41–46.Google Scholar
  54. Thompson, J. K. (1996). Assessing body image disturbance: Measures, methodology, and implementation. In J. K. Thompson (Ed.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity (pp. 49–82). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  55. Thompson, J. K., Altabe, M. N., Johnson, S., & Stormer, S. (1994). Multiple measures of body image disturbance: Are we all measuring the same construct? International Journal of Eating Disorders, 16, 311–315.Google Scholar
  56. Thompson, J. K., Coovert, M. D., Richards, K. J., Johnson, S., & Cattarin, J. (1995). Development of body image, eating disturbance, and general psychological functioning in female adolescents: Covariance structure modeling and longitudinal investigations. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18, 221–236.Google Scholar
  57. Thompson, M. A., & Gray, J. J. (1995). Development and validation of a new body image assessment scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 64, 258–269.Google Scholar
  58. Tiggemann, M., & Wilson-Barrett, E. (1998). Children's figure ratings: Relationship to selfesteem and negative stereotyping. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 23, 83–88.Google Scholar
  59. Tucker, T. A., & Mortell, R. (1993). Comparison of the effects of walking and weight-training programs on body image in middle-aged women. American Journal of Health Promotion, 8, 34–42.Google Scholar
  60. Welch, D. C., & West, R. L. (1995). Self-efficacy and mastery: Its application to issues of environmental control, cognition, and aging. Developmental Review, 15, 150–171.Google Scholar
  61. Wiederman, M. W., & Hurst, S. R. (1997). Physical attractiveness, body image, and women's sexual self-schema. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 567–580.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen M. Hendy
    • 1
  • Cheryl Gustitus
    • 1
  • Jamie Leitzel-Schwalm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPenn State UniversitySchuylkill Haven

Personalised recommendations