Training Track: Clinical
Lab: Activity Matters Lab
Advisor: Amy Bohnert, Ph.D.
Office: On internship (of campus)
The links between adolescent health, body image, and self-concept; promoting healthy weight behaviors in girls; eating disorders in children and adolescents
Masters Thesis Title
Self-Objectification and Self-Surveillance in African American and Latina Girls: Links with Body Dissatisfaction and Self-Worth
Masters Thesis Abstract
Drawing on a sample of low-income African American and Latina girls, the goal of the present investigation was to examine the relevance of self-objectification and self-surveillance to body dissatisfaction and self-worth. Body mass index (BMI), ethnicity, and perceived athletic competence were examined as moderators of these relations. Participants were 10- to 14-year-old African American and Latina girls recruited from a summer camp targeting low-income, urban girls. Surveys that include measures of self-objectification, self-surveillance, body dissatisfaction, self-worth, and perceived athletic competence were individually administered to participants by a research assistant. Height and weight were measured to calculate BMI. Ethnicity information was obtained from surveys completed by parents. Results indicated that self-objectification and self-surveillance were related, and older girls reported higher levels of each. No main effects of self-objectification were found, however, higher levels of self-surveillance were associated with lower self-worth. Among African American girls with higher BMI, self-objectification was associated with less body dissatisfaction. Among Latina girls with higher perceived athletic competence, higher self-objectification was associated with lower self-worth. Findings indicate that self-objectification and self-surveillance are indeed experienced by low-income, ethnic minority girls and increase across the transition to adolescence. Self-surveillance may be particularly important to address in interventions targeting self-worth of ethnic minority girls. Finally, results suggest the importance of ethnicity, BMI, and perceived athletic competence in understanding how self-objectification and self-surveillance relate to well-being among ethnic minority girls.
Masters Thesis Committee
Amy Bohnert and Denise Davidson
Friendship Selection Patterns among Low-Income Minority Girls/Adolescents: Links to Obesity Risk
A growing body of research has argued that efforts to reduce pediatric obesity often fail because they do not consider the larger social context in which adolescents spend their time, such as the adolescent friendship network. Indeed, there are two striking patterns with which adolescents tend to select friends (selection patterns) that may hinder efforts to reduce obesity among adolescents. First, because of stigma against obesity, healthy weight youth often avoid befriending overweight youth. Second, as a result of this exclusion, overweight youth are left to select only each other as friends, forming small groups of friends who are all overweight. Research suggests that both of these selection patterns may maintain and promote obesity risk of overweight adolescents. Research on contexts that facilitate alternative selection patterns, particularly social inclusion of overweight youth and friendship groups with diverse weight status, is thus sorely needed. Summertime programs offer an ideal context for understanding how such selection patterns may be fostered because they bring together many youth who do not previously know one another, allowing youth to regroup into new friendship networks. Furthermore, research suggests that summertime programs may facilitate friendships between adolescents who would not normally select one another as friends. Drawing on a sample of low-income girls of color, this interdisciplinary, multi-method study will examine (1) the selection patterns that occur related to weight status in a community-based summer program for girls focused on healthy lifestyles (2) whether the observed selection patterns within the program relate to change in obesogenic behaviors over the course of the program, and (3) whether observed selection patterns and change in obesogenic behaviors differs for girls of different weight statuses. Participants will be ninety-one 10-14-year-old girls recruited from the program. Outcomes will be assessed at two time points: before and at the end of the program. At both time points, body mass index, dietary intake, physical activity, and sleep will be assessed. At the end of the program, friendship ties will be assessed to capture friendship networks that emerged during the program.
Amy Bohnert, Robyn Mallett, David Shoham, and Colleen Conley