Research Papers

Research Paper on Body Image and Self-Esteem

Traditionally, self-concept and self-esteem play an extremely important role in the life of individuals. No wonder that many specialists underlined their importance to the general success of an individual in life. The current research focuses on the problem of the correlation between body image and self-esteem. In fact, it is obvious that this problem is not new since previous researches also attempted to analyze the correlation between self-concept and self-esteem and many researchers such as von Bergen and Soper arrived to the conclusion that self-concept and self-esteem may be viewed as interchangeable concepts because the self-concept encompasses self-esteem. It should be said that the previous researches revealed the fact that the self-esteem affect dramatically self-concept since individuals with the low self-esteem tended to have inconsistent self-concept, while individuals with the high self-esteem tend to have the high self-concept.

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In such a situation, Lisa L. Thompson decided to go further in her research and she attempted to find out the extent to which the body image can influence individuals’ self-esteem that was really important because the high self-esteem was traditionally viewed as a major condition of success in life. At the same time, unlike many other researchers, Lisa L. Thompson focused on specific ethnic groups, notably white and black females, in order to find out whether the correlation between body image and self-esteem differs between the representatives of these two groups or not.

The researcher suggested hypotheses, according to which, the females with higher levels of body area satisfaction would have higher levels of self-esteem and, what is more, that black females would have higher levels of body area satisfaction than white females.

The study involved 26 females, among which 13 were white and 13 black. The females were students at their first or second year of study at the age of 18-20. The participants had no or little knowledge about previous researches on the problem of the correlation between body image and self-esteem. The participants varied in body shape and weight to the extent that body area satisfaction ranged from 15 to 30, while self-esteem ranged from 10 to 26.

There were used two variables in the study: body area satisfaction and ethnicity. To put it more precisely, there were two ethnic groups black and white, while body area satisfaction score ranged from 9 to 45 and self-esteem score ranged from 10 to 40. It should be said that, in this research, the Body Area Satisfaction Subscale (BASS) was used to assess body area satisfaction and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE) was used to assess self-esteem. The participants were asked to mark their ethnicity, age, and body features they valued the most. After that they were asked to complete both scales BASS and RSE. On completing the test, the participants were informed about the scales, the current research and its hypotheses.

The results of the research revealed the fact that the BASS scores of black female participants ranged from 12 to 30 and the RSE scores ranged from 14 to 26. As for white female participants their BASS score ranged from 16 to 26 and their RSE score ranged from 11 to 23. In this respect, it should be said that the results of the research did not fully the hypothesis since the difference between body area satisfaction of black and white female does not vary substantially, and what is more some black females had even a lower level of body area satisfaction than white females that contradicts to the initial hypothesis of the researcher. In order to reveal the correlation between the body area satisfaction and self-esteem, Pearson Correlations were computed and neither significant nor strong correlations were found, r=,304. Furthermore, an independent t-test was calculated to examine any effect of race on body area satisfaction. In the result, it was found out that there was no significant difference between white and black females.

However, when Pearson Correlations concerning the interdependence of body area satisfaction and self-esteem were computed separately for black and white females, it was found that white females had a significantly positive correlation between the two, while there was no significant correlation found for black females.

As a result, the researcher arrived to the conclusion that the results of the research did not support the hypotheses that were suggested at the beginning of the research. At the same time, this research proved the conclusions of previous researches since it revealed the fact that it is not the body image that was the major factor that provokes the difference between different ethnic groups but it was the influence that the body image that the body image had on self-esteem and in turn on self-concept that varied the most. To put it more precisely, the researcher found that the self-concept of white females had a greater correlation with lower body image and self-esteem than those of black females. The researcher also argued that the enlargement of sample size could influence the results of the research and, eventually, she suggested that it is necessary to continue further researches which might involve the direct relation between body are satisfaction and overall body image.

In conclusion, it is possible to say that the research conducted by Lisa L. Thompson is really important since it helps better understand the correlation between the level of body area satisfaction, body image and self-esteem of females representing different ethnic groups. The fact that the researcher focuses on females seems to be particularly important because, traditionally, body image is very significant to females and their success in life and the current research reveal the fact that for white females the correlation between body image, or body area satisfaction and self-esteem is very important. At the same time, the research is obviously insufficient to make a pointblank conclusion but it rather reveals the perspective ways for the further researches of individual self-perception, self-concept and self-esteem.

Thompson, Lisa L. “THE EFFECT OF BODY IMAGE ON SELF-ESTEEM ACROSS ETHNICITY”, Undergraduate Journal of Psychology, 2003, 16, p.9-15.
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