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Embodied Image: The incorporation of body function into body image

Abbott, B.D. and Barber, B.L. (2008) Embodied Image: The incorporation of body function into body image. In: Biennial meeting for the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, 13-17 July 2008, Wurzburg, Germany.


It is suggested that body image is a multidimensional construct consisting of cognitive, behavioural and affective components. However body image incorporates not only ones physical attractiveness, or the way the body “looks” (aesthetics), but also how the body functions, or what it can “do”(function). Measurements of body image should therefore incorporate both these dimensions. This research aims to pilot a measurement of body image that incorporates the cognitive, behavioural and affective components of both aesthetical and functional body dimensions. In total, 875 (367 male, 508 female) adolescents aged 12-17 (M=13.61) from 18 high schools across Western Australia were surveyed gathering information on pubertal timing, body mass index (BMI) and body image. Participants reported their values of, investment in, and satisfaction with, the aesthetical and functional dimensions of the body. All subscales were found to have adequate reliability (a>.70) in both male and female participants. When controlling for age, pubertal timing, and BMI, female participants reported higher aesthetical values and investment, and lower aesthetical satisfaction, functional investment and functional satisfaction than male participants. No differences were found in functional values between males and females. All subscales were positively correlated in male participants. Functional values, investment, and satisfaction were positively associated in females. However, aesthetical values were positively associated with aesthetical investment and negatively correlated to aesthetical and functional body satisfaction. This research highlights the complexity of body image, suggesting that measures focusing on body aesthetics alone overlook the functional dimensions of the body, which are valued by both males and females.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development
Copyright: The Author
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