Perception Case Study

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Psychological investigations on body image have historically been a huge topic of study, mainly because body image research can relate to many different levels of clinical psychology and psychiatric work. The concept of body image incorporates more than just weight and shape, and can be expressed in a variety of dimensions. Many psychologists are interested in the socio-cultural effects and environmental events that cause individual behavior in relation to body image. Various researchers have investigated the fluctuations in perceived body image and the alarming rise in body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction relates to negative evaluations of body size, shape, tone, weight and can involve a perceived discrepancy between a person’s evaluation of their own body and their ideal body.

Understanding why some individuals have a healthy sense of body image while some have a distorted view is an important starting point for research. One study published in Sex Roles, conducted a representative survey titled Women’s Body Image: The results of a National Survey in the US (Cash 1995). The materials used to conduct this research were standardized Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire. These surveys represent the evaluations of 803 adult women in the United States. The results indicate that nearly half of the participants reported negative evaluations of their appearances. While age did not play an important factor in interpreting these results, race and ethnicity differences proved that African Americans expressed a more positive image than Caucasian or Hispanic women.

Further research published in the Journal of Adolescent Research by Jones of University of Washington, Vigfusdottir of Reykjavik University, and Lee of University of Washington (2004) three dimensions of cultural appearance were analyzed. This study measures cultural appearance and body mass index (BMI) to internalization of appearance ideals and body image dissatisfaction. They proposed that the relationship of appearance culture factors to body image would be mediated through the internalization of appearance ideals. The cultural dimensions addressed were appearance magazines, conversations with friends, and peer appearance criticism. These results assessed the direct effect of appearance culture on body dissatisfaction between the two genders.

Participants of this experiment were from public schools of a metropolitan district. Subjects included 433 females and 347 males, with a mixture of ethnic backgrounds. Questionnaires were distributed during class periods and can be viewed in Appendix 1. The results showed gender differences indicated that females were more engaged with appearance magazines, reported more appearance conversations, endorsed greater internalization of appearance ideals, and were more dissatisfied with their bodies. However males reported a high degree of peer appearance criticism. Overall the hypothesis was confirmed for both the boys and girls even though the strength of the relationship between internalization and body image was significantly stronger for the girls compared with the boys. Also it is important to note that the relationship between appearance magazines and body dissatisfaction was confirmed only for the girls.

As a society environmental factors play a large role in shaping perceptions and views. Understanding the perceptual views and how these beliefs are formulated is the only way that we can alter the distorted views held by some many people. An important part of these investigations is to determine exactly what people find attractive, how they measure themselves against the “attractive” individuals, and the difference between how they view themselves and how others actually see them.

We hope to develop a better understanding of what one person perceives to be attractive in individuals of the same sex and the opposite sex. We hypothesis that what women view as being...
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