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Psychology Laboratory Report - Essay Example

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Body-image studies are important to research into psychopathologies such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. A convenient sample of 20 female and male undergraduate psychology students completed an online body-image survey. The survey used the Stunkard Body Shape Scale silhouettes and questions regarding perceived actual and ideal body-images on a 9-point rating scale…
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Psychology Laboratory Report
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Psychology Laboratory Report

Perceptions of body image are of research concern for psychopathologies such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, amongst both women and men (Fallon & Rozin, 2985). Body-image can be defined as a person's self-concept of their physical appearance (Strickland, 2004). Investigation of the sociocultural differences between genders in body image perception is increasing (Fallon & Rozin, 2985). Fallon and Rozin (1985) report that women tend to weigh themselves more often, are more likely to consider themselves as fat, are more likely to be on a diet, and tend to seek medical assistance with weight issues more frequently, as compared to men. These results, state Fallon and Rozin, may be related to women on average being less satisfied with their appearance than men. Further, studies appear to indicate body image perception in general for women and men is focused on issues of weight (Fallon & Rozin, 1985). Fallon and Rozin cite a study by Gray in 1977 that found women were more likely to consider themselves overweight as compared to objective measurements, whereas men were likely to perceive themselves as underweight. Gray concluded that across the genders participants misperceived their weight when compared to their own gender, and make judgments about their weight based on standards that do not incorporate the health model (Fallon & Rozin, 1985). An example of such a standard is the perceptions of the ideal body image as judged by the opposite gender (Fallon & Rozin, 1985).
Later research supports conclusions that many people experience a discrepancy between their perceptions of an ideal body image and their actual body image (Byrne & Hills, 1996). Sociocultural influences on perceptions of body image may be attributed to media portrayals of the ideal body within a western industrial nation (Fallon & Rozin, 1985). Traditionally targeted at the female form, media portrayals of a body ideal now extend to both women and men (Yang, Gray & Pope, 2005). Fallon and Rozin (1985) found that on average men tended to rate their current, ideal and attractive body-image as very similar. Whereas, women's ideal image tended to weigh less, than both current and attractive ratings. Fallon and Rozin highlighted in their results that perceptions of what the opposite sex consider an ideal body-image are usually wrong. They found that women considered men to desire a slimmer female form as compared to what men reported they liked, and men perceived women to be attracted to a heavier male form than what women reported.
Studies have investigated methods to quantify the difference between an individual's perception of ideal and actual body image as a measure of body-image disturbance (Byrne & Hill, 1996). Importantly, it is necessary that such instruments be standardized for the populations they are used for, for example females and males, or differences in age or ethnicity (Byrne & hill, 1996). The Stunkard Body Shape Figure Scale (Stunkard et al., 1980 as cited in Strickland, 2004) is one such scale. The patterns of ranking perceived ideal and actual body image have provided insight into how females or males as a group differ amongst themselves, as well as in ... Read More
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