Academic journal article Journal of Eating Disorders

The Role of Personality in Body Image Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating: Discrepancies between Men and Women

Academic journal article Journal of Eating Disorders

The Role of Personality in Body Image Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating: Discrepancies between Men and Women

Article excerpt

Author(s): L. P. MacNeill[sup.1], L. A. Best[sup.1] and L. L. Davis[sup.1]

Plain English summary

Body image concerns do not discriminate; body dissatisfaction and its consequences are relevant to men and women of all ages. Traditionally, disordered eating and body image research has been conducted with populations of young females; therefore, more studies that concentrate on both male and female experiences of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes and behaviours are needed. Our study examined associations between body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, and personality in both genders. Several of our findings were consistent with those reported in previous studies: women reported higher levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behaviours compared to men; and, personality traits were related to the experience of body dissatisfaction in both genders. Interestingly, the association between disordered eating and personality traits differed for men and women such that personality was associated with disordered eating in women, but not in men. These findings suggest that male and female experiences of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating may differ in important, clinically relevant ways. A further exploration of these differences could be beneficial in informing the prevention and treatment of body image concerns and disordered eating attitudes and behaviours in both genders.

Background

In the past, body image research had primarily investigated body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in women; however, the focus on the study of men has been increasing. Perceptions of the ideal female body may be altered by frequent media exposure to thin female bodies [1-3], which may lead women to experience more body dissatisfaction and body focus than men [2-8]. Moreover, body dissatisfaction in women has been consistently associated with disordered eating behaviours and the development of eating disorders [9-12].

For women in particular, disordered eating behaviours have become so common in Western society that dieting is widely considered normal [13]. Given their pervasiveness in Western society, researchers have investigated various psychological correlates of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in an attempt to elucidate their etiology. Gender differences have received less attention; however, gender differences among these relationships may indicate that male and female experiences of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating differ in important, clinically relevant ways. Previous literature suggests that significant variance in the development, onset, and maintenance of eating disorders can be attributed to personality factors [14, 15]. Therefore, the current study aimed to elucidate potential gender differences in the relationship between body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, and the five-factor model (FFM) of personality in a sample of Canadian undergraduate students. One purpose of this study was to determine whether specific predictors of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating were similar for males and females. Although there is a growing body of research on body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes among males, very little research has included examinations of how personality affects these outcomes. To our knowledge, this study is one of the few that examines the influence of personality after controlling for body mass index (BMI) in a sample of male participants.

Gender differences in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating

The importance of physical appearance is more emphasized for women, and appearance norms are especially pervasive in Western society where they are conveyed through a variety of social agents, most notably the mass media [16-18]. As a result, women often experience greater body focus and body dissatisfaction than men [3, 5, 8, 19]. Women consistently choose ideal figures that are smaller than their perceived current size [2, 3, 6-8], whereas males choose ideal body sizes that are similar to, or larger than, their perceived current size [8, 20, 21]. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.