BODY IMAGE AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL PERCEPTION IN ADOLESCENTS (PARENTAL ACCEPTANCE-REJECTION THEORY, EGO DEVELOPMENT, OBESITY)
AGRESS, JO ANN R.
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This study investigated the relationship of body image to perceived maternal attitude, perceived well-being, and ego development in obese and nonobese adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that obese subjects would manifest greater distortions in body size perception and that greater distortions in body size perception would be associated with the perception of greater maternal rejection, lower levels of perceived well-being and greater dissatisfaction with one's body in both weight groups. Greater distortions in body size perception were also expected to be associated with lower levels of ego development.;Subjects were 20 obese and 28 nonobese adolescent girls, ranging in age from 12 to 16 years. A measure of body size perception and the Body Cathexis Questionnaire developed by Secord and Jourard. In addition, they completed the Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire and the Personality Assessment Questionnaire, as well as Loevinger's Sentence Completion Test for ego development.;The results indicated that obese subjects differed significantly from the nonobese group in their estimates of their shoulders as well as on a cumulative index of body width. Obese subjects, however, who gave the lowest estimates of body size expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with their bodies. Negative feelings about the body correlated with negative feelings about the self for both weight groups. For obese subjects only, negative feelings about the body correlated with the perception of poor mothering and low levels of ego development correlated with negative feelings about the self and the perception of poor mothering. Subjects in both weight groups who gave the lowest estimates of body size depicted themselves as least well off in terms of self-esteem, self-adequacy and emotional responsiveness, and they perceived their mothers as least warm and most neglectful.;The findings suggest that overweight youngsters who manifest troubled relationships with their mothers, emotional difficulties, and lower levels of ego development are least able to cope with the stress of being obese. The results also caution against viewing obese persons as a uniform group with respect to etiology and the impact that being overweight has on their lives.