Body image across three generations of Americans: Inter-family correlations, gender differences, and generation differences
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Three-hundred-and-eighty-one participants (undergraduates, their parents and grandparents) completed body image (BI; current minus ideal figure ratings) and dieting attitude measures. We found the usual gender gap in BI for the undergraduates (females' BI worse than males), but not for the parents and grandparents. This was due to males' worsening BI with age; females' BI did not differ across generations. The gender gap in dieting attitudes (females more likely to diet) also narrowed with increasing age (again due to males' changing attitudes), but remained significant across generations. In all three generations, females underestimated the size of the figure males found most attractive, whereas males overestimated the analogous figure for females. Finally, we found significant inter-family correlations for BI and dieting for all groups except undergraduate females. We discuss these results within cultural and evolutionary theoretical frameworks.
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