Explanations of Body Image Disturbance: A Test of Maturational Status, Negative Verbal Commentary, Social Comparison, and Sociocultural Hypotheses

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Objective: A number of hypotheses have been offered to explain the development and/or maintenance of body image disturbance. In this study, four factors which have been hypothesized to lead to body image problems were tested: maturational status (early physical development), negative verbal commentary (a history of being teased regarding physical appearance), behavioral social comparison, and awareness/internalization of sociocultural pressures. Methods: One hundred sixty‐two college females completed measures designed to index these four influences. Predictors were regressed onto multiple measures of body image and two indices of eating disturbance. Results: Even with self‐esteem and level of obesity removed as influences, social comparison and societal factors were significant predictors of body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance. Negative verbal commentary also explained a small part of the variance, however, maturational status did not contribute uniquely in any analysis. Discussion: The findings offer further support for emerging theories of body image and eating disturbance.

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International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 19, issue 2, p. 193-202