Description: Subjects rated 12 female body shapes with respect to their physical attractiveness, and the extent to which they would be expected to possess various personality characteristics. The shapes were varied using 3 levels of overall weight and 4 levels of body shapeliness. The sample was modified to control for socioeconomic factors and results are based on 297 undergraduates from Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic racial backgrounds. Loglinear analyses revealed that men and women, regardless of racial background, rated shapely underweight females as most physically attractive, sexy, and ideal for a woman, followed by normal weight figures of similar proportion. African Americans, women in particular, judged the shapely normal weight figures more favorably than the other subjects. Multidimensional scaling and subsequent frequency analyses showed that those figures judged as most attractive, sexy, and ideal were also expected to be fairly emotionally stable, and most successful and interpersonally competitive, but least faithful, kind, and family-oriented. Overweight female shapes, while rated as least physically attractive, sexy, and emotionally stable, were expected to be most family-oriented, kind, and faithful. Shapely normal weight figures were judged to be attractive and sexy, and were assumed to possess a moderate amount of the personality traits in question. The results suggest that Caucasian and Hispanic subjects prefer shapely underweight women, while African Americans, particularly women, find shapely underweight and shapely normal weight women to be physically appealing. African American women also rate shapely normal weight women favorably with respect to personality traits. This perceptual difference may help inoculate them from developing eating disturbances and account for the low prevalence rate of eating disorders in African Americans compared to women of other racial backgrounds. It is suggested that future research identify those beliefs, values or behaviors that seem to inoculate African American women from developing eating disorders. Once identified, ...
Date: May 2000
Creator: Olby, Brian C.
Item Type: Thesis or Dissertation