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Psychology Literature Review on Peer Pressure and its influence on females appearance schemas and body dissatisfaction - Essay Example

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Most past research on family influences has evaluated the role of peer pressure (particularly the best friend) in predicting various types of weight-loss strategies among their girlfriends. Very little research has investigated peer influences on the eating behaviors of adolescent females or explored strategies that may be more relevant to females (weight gain, muscle increase)…
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Psychology Literature Review on Peer Pressure and its influence on females appearance schemas and body dissatisfaction
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Psychology Literature Review on Peer Pressure and its influence on females appearance schemas and body dissatisfaction

Benedikt, Wertheim, and Love (2002) and Paxton et al. (2003) found that best friends' encouragement to diet increased dieting behavior among adolescent girls. Dixon, Adair, and O'Connor (2000) also found that peer encouragement to diet (separate questions were not asked for other friends and boyfriend) was associated with both body dissatisfaction and dieting behaviors among adolescent girls. However, there was no overall association between the dieting practices of friends and those of adolescent girls, although boyfriends' dieting behavior was associated with some aspects of their girlfriends' dieting behaviors. Keel, Heatherton, Harnden, and Hornig (2001) also found that although boyfriends influenced their girlfriends' body dissatisfaction but not their eating practices, best friends had a greater influence on their girlfriends' dieting behaviors.
In contrast to these findings, Steiger, Stotland, Ghadiriam, and Whitehead (2003) found no difference among binge eaters, dieters, and no dieters in the eating concerns of family members. The authors suggested that rather than an actual eating disturbance, it may be a general tendency toward some form of psychopathology that is associated with eating disturbance among adolescent girls. A follow-up study by Steiger, Stotland, Trottier, and Ghadiriam (2000) indicated that there was some association between girlfriends' and best friends' eating concerns, but that the strongest influence on disordered eating among adolescent girls was psychopathological traits of friends. Other researchers have also reported that friends of eating-disordered adolescents did not differ from control-group friends on dietary restraint or eating disturbances (Evans & le Grange, 2003; Leon, Fulkerson, Perry, & Dube, 2003), although some studies have revealed a relationship between best friends' eating restraint and that of their girlfriends but not of their sons (Ruther & Richman, 2003; Scourfield, 2003; Thelen & Cormier, 2003).
The results from the aforementioned studies demonstrate a lack of clarity in the extent to which best friends and boyfriends may influence body satisfaction and disturbed eating among adolescent females and girls, with a particular focus on girls. Furthermore, that research has focused on weight loss but neglected consideration of strategies to gain weight and increase muscle tone. These are strategies that may be particularly relevant to adolescent females, but the impact of peer feedback on these strategies has not been explored. It is important to determine the nature of the feedback provided to adolescent females, how it differs from that provided to adolescent girls, and the impact of this feedback on weight gain and strategies to increase muscle, as well as weight loss.
Peers also seem to exert some pressure among ... Read More
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