Body Image and Generalized Contentment among Students

Pakistan Journal of Psychology, June 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

Body Image and Generalized Contentment among Students


Byline: Bushra Hassan, Subaita Zubair, Muhammad Naveed Riaz and Sadaf Tariq

ABSTRACT

Societal pressures of thinness have assigned worth to the ideal body, contributing to body and life dissatisfaction. The present study is aimed to explore the relationship between body image and generalized contentment among college and university students. The sample consisted of 176 college and university students (M=50; F=126). The age range of the sample was 16-21 years. Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire Appearance Scale (MBSRQ-AS; Cash, 2000), and Generalized Contentment Scale (GCS; Hudson, 1982) were used to assess the variables of the study. The Body image satisfaction and generalized life contentment were found positively correlated. The correlation of subscales of appearance evaluation, body areas satisfaction and appearance orientation were positively correlated with the generalized contentment. Negative correlation was found between the subscales of over-weight preoccupation and self-classified weight with generalized contentment.

Gender difference in the mean scores on body areas satisfaction scale and appearance evaluation proves that male are more satisfied with their body area and appearance than females.

Key Words: Body Image, Generalized Contentment, Students

INTRODUCTION

The construct "body image" has been used to describe various phenomena that vary widely in their specific characteristics. The definitions of body image used by researches in the area are very idiosyncratic to the particular type of body image under investigation (Thompson, Penner, and Altabe, 1990). The essential feature of the physical appearance definition of body image is an evaluation of one's size, weight, or any other aspect of the body that determines physical appearance. Body image is a term which may refer to the perceptions of a human's own physical appearance, or the internal sense of having a body which is interpreted by the brain. Essentially a person's body image is how they perceive their exterior to look, and in many cases this can be dramatically different from how they actually appear to others. Life Contentment is a measure of an individual's perceived level of well-being and happiness.

It is frequently assessed in surveys, by asking individuals how satisfied they are with their own lives. It is sometimes used as a synonym for subjective happiness and subjective well-being, however questions tapping life satisfaction and happiness are slightly different, and well-being can be seen as a broader term (Markey, Tinsley, Ericsen, Ozer, and Markey, 2002).

Currently, research into perceptual and subjective components of physical appearance-related body image disturbance includes basic as well as applied investigations. A number of populations are being vigorously studied including; non-clinical adults and adolescents, athletes, obese individuals, and eating-disordered populations. These data indicate that body image disturbance is associated with several clinically relevant variables; including depression, low self-esteem, and general psychological dysfunction and greater dissatisfaction with life (Thompson, 1990).

Present study is designed to investigate the relationship between body image perception and generalized contentment among adolescents and young adult students. Adolescents and young adults are particularly vulnerable to the thin-promoting messages of the media because they are at a time in their lives when they are seeking outside information to form their self-identity (Botta, 1999). The conflict between their changing body and the media's message of acceptable body image can result in a lowering of self worth and acceptability. When they believe that their body image does not meet the accepted ideal, adolescents' assessment of self and self-assurance becomes devalued and leads to less contentment in life (Pipher, 1994).

The current study attempts to explore the body image perception in a sample of normal adolescents and young adults and tried to investigate the influence of gender, dieting and media on physical appearance, and generalized contentment (See: Blyth, Simmons, and Zakin, 1985; Tobin-Richards, Boxer, and Petersen, 1983). …

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