Date of Graduation

Spring 2008

Degree

Master of Science in Psychology

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Chantal Levesque

Keywords

body-image, body satisfaction, self-determination, sociocultural pressures, well-being

Subject Categories

Psychology

Abstract

Sociocultural pressures can have a negative effect on the way a woman feels about her body. As shown in the literature, outside pressures, coming from the media, friends, and family, can all be responsible for this effect, leading women to internalize society's beliefs of a thin "ideal” body. Pelletier, Dion, and Levesque (2004) found that women with higher levels of global self-determination (GSD) were less likely to give in to the sociocultural pressures about body image and consequently develop bulimic symptoms. The present study is a follow up to the Pelletier et al. (2004) study. A total of 401 undergraduate females participated in the present study. They completed questionnaires regarding perceptions of sociocultural pressures in their environment, global motivation, internalization of society's beliefs, body dissatisfaction, well-being, and their level of self-regulation toward eating and exercising. The participants' age ranged from 17 to 36 (M=18.65). The average Body Mass Index (BMI; Kg/m2) for the sample was 23.12 (SD=4.60). The entire sample was split into two groups based on GSD scores: low self-determined women (LSD: 182) and high self-determined women (HSD: 186). Structural equation modeling and invariance analyses procedures were conducted to test the proposed moderation effect of global self-determination. For both groups of women, positive relationships were found between sociocultural pressures and internalization of society's beliefs. In addition, the beliefs about the "thin” ideal which they both internalized, affected body dissatisfaction similarly. However, and consistent with the "buffer” hypothesis, women with high self-determination maintained significantly higher levels of overall well-being and regulated their eating and exercise habits in a more positive way. The results imply that fostering higher levels of self-determination in women could help maintain higher levels of overall well-being and prevent the epidemic of the diet and exercise fads.

Copyright

© Rachel A. Sutcliffe

Campus Only

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