Nav: Home

Chapman University research shows body image strongly linked to overall life satisfaction

May 10, 2016

Chapman University has just published the results of a national study on the factors linked to satisfaction with appearance and weight. In a survey of more than 12,000 Americans adults, the questions focused on personality, beliefs about romantic relationships, self-esteem, television viewing, and personal characteristics.

"Our study shows that men's and women's feelings about their weight and appearance play a major role in how satisfied they are with their lives overall," said David Frederick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University and lead author on the study.

For women, satisfaction with overall appearance was the third strongest predictor of overall life satisfaction, behind only satisfaction with financial situation and satisfaction with romantic partner. For men, appearance satisfaction was the second strongest predictor of life satisfaction, behind only satisfaction with financial situation.

"Few men (24 percent) and women (20 percent) felt very or extremely satisfied with their weight, and only half felt somewhat to extremely satisfied," said Dr. Frederick. "These findings are consistent with the emphasis placed on the importance of being slender for women and for appearing athletic and/or lean for men. It would seem therefore, that we still have a long way to go before we achieve the goal of Americans being truly happy with their bodies."

People who were dissatisfied with their weight reported substantially less satisfaction with their sex lives and lower overall self-esteem. The results also showed that people's orientations towards their relationships--known as "attachment styles"--were linked to how people felt about their bodies. People with an "anxious" attachment style are often preoccupied with their romantic relationships and fearful that their partners will leave them. Women with more anxious and fearful attachment styles were more dissatisfied with their appearance and weight.

Dr. Frederick noted that, "body dissatisfaction and anxious attachment styles can lead to an out of control spiral and fuel each other. People who are less confident in their appearance become more fearful that their partner will leave, which further fuels their worries about their appearance."

The results showed that dissatisfied people had higher neuroticism, had more preoccupied and fearful attachment styles, and spent more hours watching television. In contrast, satisfied people had higher openness, conscientious, extraversion, are more secure in attachment style, and had higher self-esteem and life satisfaction.

Other key findings included:
  • People who watched more hours of television per week were less satisfied with their appearance and weight.

  • People who were more satisfied with their physical appearance and weight reported more secure attachment styles, versus fearful and dismissive attachment styles.

  • People who were more satisfied with their appearance reported greater self-esteem, greater satisfaction with life, sex life, friends, romantic partners, family, and financial situation.

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) was strongly related to dissatisfaction with appearance and weight.
"These findings highlight the high prevalence of body dissatisfaction and the factors linked to dissatisfaction among U.S. adults," said Dr. Frederick.

The study called, Correlates of appearance and weight satisfaction in a U.S. national Sample: Personality, attachment style, television viewing, self-esteem, and life satisfaction is published in the journal Body Image. The sample of participants was 12,176 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years who reported their height, weight and sexual orientation.
-end-
Authorship was: Dr. David Frederick and Gaganjyot Sandhu of Chapman University, Patrick Morse, Ph.D. of University of California at Riverside; and Viren Swami, Ph.D. of the University of Westminster, London.

The link to the paper at the journal website can be found here: http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1T08f6BgRtm8Aw

Consistently ranked among the top universities in the West, Chapman University attracts highly qualified students from around the globe. Its programs are designed to encourage leadership in innovation, creativity and collaboration, and are increasingly recognized for providing an extraordinary educational experience. The university excels in the sciences and humanities, business and economics, educational studies, film and media arts, performing arts, and law. Student enrollment in graduate and undergraduate programs is approaching 8,000 and Chapman University alumni are found throughout the world. Visit us at http://www.chapman.edu.

Follow us on Facebook at: Chapman University Facebook
On Twitter at: @ChapmanU
On YouTube at: Chapman University YouTube Channel

Chapman University

Related Relationships Articles:

Better quality relationships associated with reduced dementia risk
Positive social support from adult children is associated with reduced risk of developing dementia, according to a new research published today.
Contraception influences sexual desire in committed relationships
How often women in heterosexual couples desire sex depends on how committed the relationship is and what type of birth control the woman uses.
Health determined by social relationships at work
Recent research shows higher social identification with one's team or organization is associated with better health and lower stress.
Financial relationships between biomedical companies and organizations
Sixty-three percent of organizations that published clinical practice guidelines on the National Guideline Clearinghouse website in 2012 reported receiving funds from biomedical companies, but these relationships were seldom disclosed in the guidelines, according to a new study published by Henry Stelfox and colleagues from the University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, in PLOS Medicine.
Money really does matter in relationships
Our romantic choices are not just based on feelings and emotions, but how rich we feel compared to others, a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology has found.
Does frequent sex lead to better relationships? Depends on how you ask
Newlywed couples who have a lot of sex don't report being any more satisfied with their relationships than those who have sex less often, but their automatic behavioral responses tell a different story, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Concussion can alter parent-child relationships
A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology, reveals the adverse effects of mild traumatic brain injury on the quality parent-child relationships.
Emotionally supportive relationships linked to lower testosterone
Science and folklore alike have long suggested that high levels of testosterone can facilitate the sorts of attitudes and behavior that make for, well, a less than ideal male parent.
Memory is greater threat to romantic relationships than Facebook
A new study was designed to test whether contacts in a person's Facebook friends list who are romantically desirable are more or less of a threat to an existing relationship than are potential partners a person can recall from memory. threatened current committed relationships, as reported in an article published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
How does prison time affect relationships?
A new study highlights the complicated spillover effects of incarceration on the quality of relationships.

Related Relationships Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...