Sociotropy and perception of own and close friend's dieting behaviours and body image
Master of Arts
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
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A woman’s physical appearance has been strongly associated with her sense of self-worth and success. Moreover, through family, media and one’s friends, messages of an unrealistically thin ideal body have been perpetuated, creating feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s physical appearance. While the effects of family and the media on one’s body image satisfaction have been well studied, the effects of one’s friendship group have been less often studied, and within the adult population, such literature is almost non-existent. Moreover, body image dissatisfaction can lead to dieting behaviours, which have been associated with negative consequences for one’s health; however this too, within the context of one’s friendship group within adults has not been studied. Sociotropy, how sensitive one is to interpersonal interactions, has been connected to the development of eating disorders, however its use in research in this area is limited. Thus, the current study aimed to investigate the role of sociotropy in the relationship between a woman and her closest friend’s body image satisfaction and eating behaviour. Analyses suggested that sociotropy plays a mediating role between these thoughts and behaviours, such that it partially accounts for the relationship between a person and her closest friend’s body image satisfaction, and their dieting behaviour. Qualitative data analyses demonstrated that many women are affected by their closest friend’s eating behaviours, and less directly affected by their closest friend’s body image satisfaction. The implications of these results are discussed within the paper.