Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 421–429 | Cite as

Gender Differences in Peer and Parental Influences: Body Image Disturbance, Self-Worth, and Psychological Functioning in Preadolescent Children

  • Vicky Phares
  • Ari R. Steinberg
  • J. Kevin Thompson
Article

Abstract

The connections between body image disturbance and psychological functioning have been well established in samples of older adolescent girls and young women. Little is known, however, about body image in younger children. In particular, little is known about possible gender differences in preadolescent children. The current study explored self-reported body image disturbance and psychological functioning in relation to peer and parental influences in 141 elementary school-aged girls and boys aged 8–11. Results suggest that girls are more concerned about dieting and are more preoccupied with their weight than are boys. Girls also reported a greater drive for thinness and a higher level of family history of eating concerns than did boys. Correlations suggested that girls' experiences of body image concerns (body dissatisfaction, bulimia, and drive for thinness) were related to a number of factors (such as family history of eating concerns, peer influences, teasing, depression, and global self-worth) whereas boys' experiences of body image concerns were related to fewer factors. On the basis of these findings, the assessment and treatment of body image concerns in preadolescent children (especially girls) are of great importance. Implications for intervention and prevention programs are discussed.

body image peers parents 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Archibald, A. B., Graber, J. A., and Brooks-Gunn, J. (1999). Associations among parent-adolescent relationships, pubertal growth, dieting, and body image in young adolescent girls:Ashort-term longitudinal study.J. Res. Adolesc., 9: 395–415.Google Scholar
  2. Attie, I., and Brooks-Gunn, J. (1989). Development of eating problems in adolescent girls: A longitudinal study. Dev. Psychol. 25: 70–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brooks-Gunn, J., Warren, M. P., Rosso, J., and Gargiulo, J. (1987). Validity of self-report measures of girls' pubertal status. Child Dev. 58: 829–841.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bunnell, D.W., Cooper, P. J., Hertz, S., and Shenker, I. R. (1992). Body shape concerns among adolescents. Int. J. Eating Disord. 11: 79–83.Google Scholar
  5. Cash, T. F. (1995). Developmental teasing about physical appearance: Retrospective descriptions and relationships with body image. Soc. Behav. Pers. 23: 123–129.Google Scholar
  6. Cattarin, J. A., and Thompson, J. K. (1994). A three-year longitudinal study of body image, eating disturbance, and general psychological functioning in adolescent females. Eating Disord. 2: 114–124.Google Scholar
  7. Childress, A. C., Brewerton, T. D., Hodges, E. L., and Jarrell, M. P. (1993). The kids' eating disorders survey (KEDS): A study of middle school students. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry 32: 843–849.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohane, G. H., and Pope, H. G. (2001). Body image in boys: A review of the literature. Int. J. Eating Disord. 29: 373-379.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychol. Bull. 112: 155–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Collins, M. E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among preadolescent children. Int. J. Eating Disord. 10: 199–208.Google Scholar
  11. Cusumano, D. L., and Thompson, J. K. (2001). Media influence and body image in 8-11 year-old boys and girls: A preliminary report on the Multidimensional Media Influence Scale. Int. J. Eating Disord. 29: 37–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Desmond, S. M., Price, J. H., Gray, N., and O'Connell, J. K. (1986). The etiology of adolescents' perceptions of their weight.J. Youth Adolesc. 15: 461–473.Google Scholar
  13. Field, A. E., Austin, S. B., Frazier, A. L., Gillman, M.W., Camargo, C. A., and Colditz, G. A. (2002). Smoking, getting drunk, and engaging in bulimic behaviors: In which order are the behaviors adopted?J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry 41: 846–853.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Field, A. E., Camargo, C. A., Taylor, C. B., Berkey, C. S., Roberts, S. B., and Colditz, G. A. (2001). Peer, parent, and media influences on the development of weight concerns and frequent dieting among preadolescent and adolescent girls and boys. Pediatrics 107: 54–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Garner, D. M. (1984). Eating Disorder Inventory for Children (EDI-C).Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  16. Harter, S. (1985). Manual for the Self-Perception Profile for Children. Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Colorado.Google Scholar
  17. Herzog, D. B., Keller, M. B., Sacks, N. R., Yeh, C. J., and Lavori, P. W. (1992). Psychiatric comorbidity in treatment-seeking anorexics and bulimics. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry 31: 810–818.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Hill, A. J., Oliver, S., and Rogers, P. J. (1992). Eating in the adult world: The rise of dieting in childhood and adolescence. Br. J. Clin. Psychol. 31: 95–105.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Kostanski, M., and Gullone, E. (1999). Dieting and body image in the child's world: Conceptualization and behavior. J. Genet. Psychol. 160: 488–499.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Kovacs, M. (1992). Children's Depression Inventory: CDI Manual. Multi-Health Systems, North Tonawanda, NY. Inc.Google Scholar
  21. Levine, M. P., and Smolak, L. (2001). Primary prevention of body image disturbances and disordered eating in childhood and early adolescence. In Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, L., (eds.), Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in Youth: Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment.American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 237–260.Google Scholar
  22. Levine, M. P., Smolak, L., Moodey, A. F., Shuman, M. D., and Hessen, L. D. (1994). Normative developmental challenges and dieting and eating disturbances in middle school girls. Int. J. Eating Disord. 15: 11–20.Google Scholar
  23. Mendelson, B. K., White, D. R., and Mendelson, M. J. (1996). Selfesteem and body esteem: Effects of gender, age, and weight. J. Appl. Dev. Psychol. 17: 321–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Moreno, A., and Thelen, M. H. (1993). Parental factors related to bulimia nervosa. Addictive Behav. 18: 681–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oliver, K. K., and Thelen, M. H. (1996). Children's perceptions of peer influence on eating concerns. Behav. Ther. 27: 25–39.Google Scholar
  26. Phares, V. (1995). Fathers' and mothers' participation in research. Adolescence 30: 593–602.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Phares, V. (1996). Fathers and developmental psychopathology. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  28. Pike, K. M., and Rodin, J. (1991). Mothers, daughters, and disordered eating. J. Abnorm. Psychol. 100: 198–204.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Ricciardelli, L. A., and McCabe, M. P. (2001). Children's body image concerns and eating disturbance: A review of the literature. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 21: 325–344.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Ricciardelli, L. A., McCabe, M. P., and Banfield, S. (2000). Body image and body change methods in adolescent boys: Role of parents, friends, and the media. J. Psychosom. Res. 49: 189–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Rieves, L., and Cash, T. F. (1996). Social developmental factors and women's body-image attitudes. J. Soc. Behav. Pers. 11: 63–78.Google Scholar
  32. Rodin, J., Silberstein, L. R., and Striegel-Moore, R. H. (1985). Women and weight: A normative discontent. In Sonderegger, T. B. (ed.), Psychology and Gender: Nebraska Symposium on Motivation.University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, pp. 267–307.Google Scholar
  33. Sands, R., Tricker, J., Sherman, C., and Armatas, C. (1997). Disordered eating patterns, body image, self-esteem, and physical activity in preadolescent school children. Int. J. Eating Disord. 21: 159–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sanftner, J. L., Crowther, J. H., Crawford, P. A., and Watts, D. D. (1996). Maternal influences (or lack thereof) on daughters' eating attitudes and behaviors. Eating Disord. 4: 147–159.Google Scholar
  35. Schur, E. A., Sanders, M., and Steiner, H. (2000). Body dissatisfaction and dieting in young children. Int. J. Eating Disord. 27: 74–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schwartz, D. J., Phares, V., Tantleff-Dunn, S., and Thompson, J. K. (1999). Body image, psychological functioning, and parental feedback regarding physical appearance. Int. J. Eating Disord. 25: 339–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shapiro, S., Newcomb, M., and Loeb, T. B. (1997). Fear of fat, disregulated-restrained eating, and body esteem: Prevalence and gender differences among eight-to ten-year-old children. J. Clin. Child Psychol. 26: 358–365.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Smolak, L., and Levine, M. P. (2001). Body image in children. In Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, L. (eds.), Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in Youth: Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment.American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 41–66.Google Scholar
  39. Smolak, L., Levine, M. P., and Schermer, F. (1999). Parental input and weight concerns among elementary school children. Int. J. Eating Disord. 25: 263–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Steinberg, A. B., and Phares,V. (2001). Family functioning, body image, and eating disturbances. In Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, L. (eds.), Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in Youth: Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment.American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 127–147.Google Scholar
  41. Steinhausen, H., and Vollrath, M. (1993). The self-image of adolescent patients with eating Disord. Int. J. Eating Disord. 13: 221–227.Google Scholar
  42. Stice, E. (2001). Risk factors for eating pathology: Recent advances and future directions. In R. Striegel-Moore & L. Smolak (Eds.), Eating disorders: Innovative directions in research and practice (pp. 51–73). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  43. Thelen, M. H., and Cormier, J. (1995). Desire to be thinner and weight control among children and their parents. Behav. Ther. 26: 85–99.Google Scholar
  44. Thelen, M. H., Lawrence, C., and Powell, A. (1992). Body image, weight control, and eating disorders among children. In Crowther, J. H., Tennebaum, D. L., Hobfoll, S. E., and Stephens, M. A. P. (eds.), The Etiology of Bulimia Nervosa: The Individual and Familial Context.Hemisphere, Washington, DC, pp. 82–102.Google Scholar
  45. Thompson, J. K. (1996). Assessing body image disturbance: Measures, methodology, and implementation. In Thompson, J. K. (ed.), Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity: An Integrative Guide for Assessment and Treatment. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 49–82.Google Scholar
  46. Thompson, J. K., Cattarin, J., Fowler, B., and Fisher, E. (1995). The Perception of Teasing Scale (POTS): A revision and extension of the Physical Appearance Related Teasing Scale (PARTS). J. Pers. Assess.65: 146–157.Google Scholar
  47. Thompson, J. K., and Heinberg, L. J. (1993). Preliminary test of two hypotheses of body image disturbance. Int. J. Eating Disord. 14: 59–63.Google Scholar
  48. Thompson, J. K., Heinberg, L. J., Altabe, M., and Tantleff-Dunn, S. (1999). Exacting Beauty: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment of Body Image Disturbance. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  49. Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, L. (2001). Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in youth: The future is now. In Thompson, J. K., and Smolak, L. (eds.), Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in Youth: Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment.American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp. 1–39.Google Scholar
  50. VanderWal, J. S., and Thelen, M. H. (2000). Predictors of body image dissatisfaction in elementary-age school girls. Eating Behav. 1: 105–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wadden, T. A., Brown, G., Foster, G. D., and Linowitz, J. R. (1991). Salience of weight-relatedworries in adolescent males and females. Int. J. Eating Disord. 10: 407–414.Google Scholar
  52. Williamson, S., and Delin, C. (2001).Young children's figural selections: Accuracy of reporting and body size dissatisfaction. Int. J. Eating Disord. 29: 80–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wood, K. C., Becker, J. A., and Thompson, J. K. (1996). Body image dissatisfaction in preadolescent children. J. Appl. Dev. Psychol. 17: 85–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vicky Phares
  • Ari R. Steinberg
  • J. Kevin Thompson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations