The Relationship Between
Maureen L. Farrell
This study's goals were to determine the relationship between gender identity and perceived body satisfaction.
Participants were selected from an elementary school in a small suburb outside of Boston, Massachusetts. A total of 22 females from 9 to 10 years of age were recruited. Each participant provided a conformed consent from their parents.
The materials for this study consisted of two questionnaires, The Children Sex Role Inventory (Boldizar, 1991) and The Health Rating Questionnaire (Farrell, 2000).
After receiving signed consent from a parent or guardian, each participant was given two questionnaires and seven figure drawings in a packet in a classroom setting. The order of the questionnaires consisted of the CSRI first, then the HRQ, and participants were asked to complete them in that order. All participants completed the two questionnaires in 40 minutes. All participants were debriefed upon finishing the questionnaires.
The Children's Sex Role Inventory (CSRI). The Children's Sex Role Inventory is a measure of sex typing and androgyny in children and was developed by Boldizar (1991), based on the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI: Bem, 1974). The CSRI contains 60 items with three sub scales: femininity, neutral, and masculinity. The child rates each statement on a point scale: 4=very true of me, 3=mostly true of me, 2=a little true of me, and 1=not at all true of me. Reliability was established through high internal consistency of femininity and masculinity scales (average = .81) and test-retest reliabilities averaging .60.
Health Rating Questionnaire. The Health Rating Questionnaire was developed by Farrell (2000) to investigate a child's understanding of their own health and the health of others. The questionnaire is composed of 7 silhouettes of female figures. Each figure varies in shape and size. The child is asked to rate each figure on a 5 point anchored scale for five different factors related to health as follows: 1(sick) to 5 (healthy); 1 (ugly) to 5 (pretty); 1 (sad) to 5 (happy); 1 (weak) to 5(strong); 1 (unkind) to 5 (nice).
ResultsDescriptive statistics are provided for the seven silhouettes by size for all of the following ratings: healthy, pretty, happy, strong, and kind.
The results indicate that there are important and significant differences, as well as consistencies for gender and body image. It is clear that gender identity relates to ones perception of body image.The study indicates that there is definitely a relationship between gender roles and the understanding of body image. It is important to identify those characteristics of a preadolescent girl and the influence it has on her perceptions of health and body image. Future research is important to provide a better understanding of preadolescent views and perceptions on different health issues. Evidence suggests that preadolescent girls have already shown a desire for thinness (Schreiber & Robins, 1996). It is important to address this issue due to the implications of eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction at such a young age.
The hypothesis of this study postulated that masculinity will show a strong relationship to a more positive body image. It was also hypothesized that those who scored higher in femininity will have a more negative body image.
In addition, future research could help establish school programs on what it means to be healthy and clarify what it means to be in good health, which, in turn, lead to a healthier perception of body image for oneself and others.