Psychological investigations on body image have historically been a huge topic of study, mainly because body image research can relate to many different levels of clinical psychology and psychiatric work. The concept of body image incorporates more than just weight and shape, and can be expressed in a variety of dimensions. Many psychologists are interested in the socio-cultural effects and environmental events that cause individual behavior in relation to body image. Various researchers have investigated the fluctuations in perceived body image and the alarming rise in body dissatisfaction.
Body dissatisfaction relates to negative evaluations of body size, shape, tone, weight and can involve a perceived discrepancy between a person’s evaluation of their own body and their ideal body. Understanding why some individuals have a healthy sense of body image while some have a distorted view is an important starting point for research. One study published in Sex Roles, conducted a representative survey titled Women’s Body Image: The results of a National Survey in the US (Cash 1995). The materials used to conduct this research were standardized Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire.
These surveys represent the evaluations of 803 adult women in the United States. The results indicate that nearly half of the participants reported negative evaluations of their appearances. While age did not play an important factor in interpreting these results, race and ethnicity differences proved that African Americans expressed a more positive image than Caucasian or Hispanic women. Further research published in the Journal of Adolescent Research by Jones of University of Washington, Vigfusdottir of Reykjavik University, and Lee of University of Washington (2004) three dimensions of cultural appearance were analyzed.
This study measures cultural appearance and body mass index (BMI) to internalization of appearance ideals and body image dissatisfaction. They proposed that the relationship of appearance culture factors to body image would be mediated through the internalization of appearance ideals. The cultural dimensions addressed were appearance magazines, conversations with friends, and peer appearance criticism. These results assessed the direct effect of appearance culture on body dissatisfaction between the two genders.
Participants of this experiment were from public schools of a metropolitan district. Subjects included 433 females and 347 males, with a mixture of ethnic backgrounds. Questionnaires were distributed during class periods and can be viewed in Appendix 1. The results showed gender differences indicated that females were more engaged with appearance magazines, reported more appearance conversations, endorsed greater internalization of appearance ideals, and were more dissatisfied with their bodies. However males reported a high degree of peer appearance criticism.
Overall the hypothesis was confirmed for both the boys and girls even though the strength of the relationship between internalization and body image was significantly stronger for the girls compared with the boys. Also it is important to note that the relationship between appearance magazines and body dissatisfaction was confirmed only for the girls. As a society environmental factors play a large role in shaping perceptions and views. Understanding the perceptual views and how these beliefs are formulated is the only way that we can alter the distorted views held by some many people.
An important part of these investigations is to determine exactly what people find attractive, how they measure themselves against the “attractive” individuals, and the difference between how they view themselves and how others actually see them. We hope to develop a better understanding of what one person perceives to be attractive in individuals of the same sex and the opposite sex. We hypothesis that what women view as being attractive, men might find to be average or less attractive and vice-versa.
For example women often have individual views of what they think they should look like and what is the most attractive appearance. However, what do men find attractive in women? We hypothesize that some beliefs about this “ideal” image are only held by women and men in fact look for something completely different. The same can be said of male subjects. We hypothesize that men are striving to be something that most women aren’t even looking for in their mate. So we intend to determine which female body structure is most desirable for both en and women and then which male body structure is most desirable for both men and women. In addition to the original experiment we are interested in determining if each of the participants believe that the man/or woman that he/or she found to be the most attractive and desirable would be interested in dating them. By following up with this question, the experimenter will be able to get an idea on the subject’s level of confidence. During the experiment the experimenter rates each participant on a scale of zero to five, with five being extremely attractive and zero being unattractive.
The reason for this observation is to determine how distorted the results are. For example: If a subject is absolutely gorgeous and does not believe that the man of her choice would ever be interested in dating them than chances are they have some sort of dissatisfaction with themselves. This research was done in complete confidentiality and all of the subjects are anonymous. The primary purpose of these tests is to determine the different preferences different individuals and how it reflects on them. Method Subjects Ninety adults were randomly selected to participate in this experiment.
Of those ninety participants, fifty nine were women and thirty one were men. Their ages ranged from eighteen to fifty-six. The participants come from Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, and Asian backgrounds. All participants were heterosexuals. Materials For this experiment we used two sets of colored photographs that displayed a range of body types from anorexic to obese and muscular to average body types. One set included seven male photographs and another set included seven female photographs. The photographs were all of Caucasian men and women and only displayed the body from the neck down.
Behind the photographs, random numbers were assigned to each photo from one through seven for recording purposes only. This experiment also included a short survey of four questions and a short questionnaire. The first half of the survey asked the participants to rate the photographs from greatest to least according to which photograph they would most like to look like, and which photograph they are most attracted to. The second half of the survey asked if they believed the body types they have rated most attractive and second most attractive would be interested in dating them.
The questionnaire pertained to their: age, gender, ethnicity and education. Please refer to the appendix for the sample of photos, survey, and questionnaire. Procedure Prior to conducting the experiment the subjects were told that this experiment involves answering simple survey questions pertaining to body types. The experiment is being done for scientific purposes. It is very important that you be thoughtful with your responses. Your answers will be completely anonymous. Only one subject was tested per session. Each subject was first given a set of photographs that corresponded to their gender (i. . Female subjects received a set of female photographs and male subjects received a set of male photographs). The subjects were then asked to rate the photographs according to which body type they would most like to look like from the greatest to least. When the participants rated the photographs the experimenter recorded the data onto the survey. The photos were then collected. Next, the subjects were given a set of photos of the opposite sex. The subjects were asked to rate the photos according to which body type they are most attracted to from greatest to least.
When the participants rated the photographs the experimenter recorded the data onto the survey. Then the experimenter asked the subjects whether or not they believed that the most attractive body type would be interested in dating them. The experimenter also asked the subject whether or not they believed the second most attractive body type would be interested in dating them. Both responses were recorded as yes or no. The photos were then collected. Lastly, the subjects were given a short questionnaire about themselves pertaining to: age, gender, ethnicity and education. As the subject nswered the questionnaire, the experimenter rated the participant from extremely attractive, attractive, cute, medium attractive, and unattractive. These ratings were recorded on a separate sheet hidden from the subjects view. Once the questionnaire was completed, all forms were stapled and sealed in an envelope. Results We tested 90 subjects which included 31 men and 59 women from 18-56 from various cultural and educational backgrounds see table 8. The data showed the female subjects chose picture #3 as the picture they would most like to look like. The men chose picture # 4 as the most attractive female picture see table 3.
For the male picture, the picture the male subjects wanted to look like was picture # 5. Surprisingly, this was also the picture that most of the female participants chose as the most attractive see table 4. When asked if they thought their first choice would date them, 63% of the female subjects said yes and 37% said no see table 5. 71% of the men subjects were sure their first choice would date them but only 29% said no see table 6. The subjects were also rated on their attractiveness by the tester. Most of the subjects fell between medium attractiveness (32% male and 15% female) and cute (39% male and 46% female) see table 7.
According to our results it seems to disprove the ideology that every woman wants to be a size 0. The thin picture (#7) was the picture that was chosen the least. Most women chose the more athletic or shapely picture (#3 ) as the picture they most wanted to look like. Men also chose the more athletic build over the thin female frame (#4). It should be interesting to find out where our society is getting its theory that most women want to be thin and that most men find skinny women most attractive. Our society is in tune with its image of the male body.
Both the women and the men chose picture # 5 as either the one they would most like to look like or the most attractive. Surprisingly the men and woman chose the same pictures as the first through seventh choices. It is as if men and women are in agreement with what society states the ideal man should look like. The male subjects believed more than the female subjects that their first or second choice would date them. This result was not particularly surprising since it is still a custom for men to approach women. Therefore men may have slightly higher egos than their female counterpart.