Romantic Partners and Body Image Disturbance: Further Evidence for the Role of Perceived-Actual Disparities

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Body Image, Romantic Relationship, Romantic Partner, Rating Protocol, Clinical Index

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In this study, female and male college dyads (primarily Caucasian) involved in a “romantic relationship” used schematic figures to rate their conceptions of body size on a variety of rating protocols, including actual self, ideal self, ideal opposite gender, perceived partner's ideal opposite gender, perceived partner's rating of self, and rating of partner's body size. Based on the reflected-appraisal literature and previous body image research on perceived—actual disparities in body size ratings, five discrepancy indices were created and related to dispositional levels of body image disturbance, eating dysfunction, and general psychological function (self-esteem, depression). The results clearly indicated gender differences in the particular predictor associated with all measures of disturbance. For females, the discrepancy between the Self rating and the Perceived Partner's Ideal Other Gender rating accounted for almost all of the variance associated with clinical indices of disturbance. For males, the discrepancy between the Self rating and the Actual Partner's Ideal Other Gender rating was the only important predictor to emerge in regression analyses. The findings are interpreted in light of recent research on actual/perceived differences in body size ratings.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Sex Roles, v. 33, issues 9-10, p. 589-605