Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Randall M. Jones


Randall M. Jones


Shelley L. Knudsen Lindauer


Brent C. Miller


This study primarily examined the relationship between role model choices and body image of female adolescents. More specifically this study sought to examine the relationship between the reasons that adolescent females give for choosing a role model and body image. Because body image dissatisfaction has been found to be associated with self-esteem and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, these variables also were investigated. Body image was examined by using two measures of the body image construct· the Figure Rating Scale and the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ). Both were used in order to capture a greater portion of the body image construct, as well as to examine possible differences between the measures.

Eating disordered behaviors were measured using the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) and self-esteem was measured with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES). Participants were asked to list one role model within their family and one role model outside of their family, and to list why they selected those specific people as their role models. Role models were coded based upon the reasons provided by participants. Those who listed physical reasons such as "she has a good body," "she is beautiful ," or "she is skinny" were coded as "Group 1 - Physical," and those who chose all other reasons were labeled "Group 2- Non-physical." Females, ages 13-15 and 18-23, voluntarily participated in this study. The majority participated in exchange for extra credit in specific courses at their freshman center or university A prepared packet (including consent forms, instructions, and questionnaire) was sent home with willing participants to fill out and return. In total, 159 packets were returned.

Statistical analyses indicated that body image is highly correlated with eating disordered behaviors and low self-esteem. Those scoring high on the measure of eating disordered behaviors (EAT-26) had, on average, even lower self-esteem as indicated by scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES). However, statistically significant differences between body image and reasons for choosing a role model {physical vs. non-physical) appeared only on weight and/or shape-related aspects of the body image measures. It is not known whether differences between type of role model and body image occurred due to actual weight / Body Mass Index (BMI), or if those with greater weight and/or shape-related concerns chose more physical role models. Age differences among participants appeared on type of role model chosen. with the younger participants, ages 13-15, choosing more role models based upon physical characteristics than those ages 18-23. However, no differences were found between age of participant and level of body image.