Body image and dating relationships amongs female adolescents
Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
Body image and dating relationships are two of the most important topics in the lives of the female adolescents. Yet, not much South African research has been done on either of these themes with adolescent populations and no research could be found to investigate a possible relationship between these two important aspects, both internationally and locally. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to investigate the potential relationship between female adolescents’ body image and their romantic relationships. Specifically, the aim was to determine if a relationship existed between participants’ self-rated attractiveness and body dissatisfaction, and their relationship status and romantic relationship satisfaction. There were two secondary aims. The first was to investigate how aspects like participants’ culture, age and body size were related to their body image and the second was to determine if aspects like participants’ culture, age and body size were related to their relationship status and satisfaction with their romantic relationships. Questionnaires were distributed to Afrikaans- and English- speaking White girls, Afrikaansspeaking Coloured girls and isiXhosaspeaking girls at four urban, coeducational, secondary schools and 511 questionnaires were completed. Participants selfreported their height and weight, self-rated their facial and bodily attractiveness on a 7- point scale, and completed two measures of body dissatisfaction: the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) Body Dissatisfaction subscale (Garner, Olmstead, & Polivy, 1983) and the Body Cathexis Scale (BCS) (Secord & Jourard, 1953). Participants also indicated their current relationship status using five categories: has never dated anyone, not dating anyone currently, casually dating one or more people, dating one person exclusively, and engaged or planning to marry, and completed the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS) (Hendrick, 1988), a measure of relationship satisfaction. With regard to the primary aim of the study, results show that there were significant relationships between some of the measures of body image and relationship status for the total sample. In general, it was found that the girls who were involved in exclusive relationships at the time of the study had better body image than the girls who were not. Yet, results for this relationship were different for the different cultural and body mass index groups. With regard to the relationship between body image and relationship satisfaction, the Body Cathexis Scale scores significantly predicted participants’ satisfaction with their romantic relationships. Yet both weight and culture were also found to play a role in the relationship between body image and relationship satisfaction. With regard to the secondary aims of the study, culture was found to be related to body image, body mass index, relationship status and relationship satisfaction, while age played a role in participants’ body mass index and relationship status, and body mass index was related to body image, but not to relationship status and relationship satisfaction. Therefore, participants’ culture and body mass index were significant with regard to body image and romantic relationships, but was also found to play a significant role in the relationship between these two.