The relationship between identity development and body image


Previous research suggests a link between identity status (i.e., identity exploration and identity commitment) and body image, evaluation (e.g., body satisfaction) and investment (e.g., the psychological importance one places on one's appearance). The identity statuses include diffused (neither exploration, nor commitment), foreclosed (commitment without exploration), moratorium (exploration, but no commitment), and achieved (exploration and commitment to an identity). While research demonstrates that an association exists between body image, specifically weight preoccupation, and identity development, variations in the adjustment within the identity statuses suggest that other factors may affect this relationship. One such factor is identity distress. The intended purpose of this study is to replicate the findings of Herzog (1997) who found that women in the identity statuses which have not yet committed to an identity (diffused and moratorium) had a significantly higher degree of weight preoccupation than those in the identity statuses who had made identity commitments. The present study also sought to explore whether this same relationship holds for men. It was further hypothesized that women would have less satisfaction with their bodies than men would. A sample of 53 college students with a mean age of26.45 years (S.D. = 7.36 years) completed questionnaires pertaining to identity status, identity distress, and body image. A one-way analysis of variance showed a significant difference between identity status groups on overweight preoccupation with the most preoccupied being those in the moratorium identity status, followed by achievement, diffused, and then foreclosed. However, Scheffe Post Hoc analyses indicated that the only significant difference between groups was between moratoriums and foreclosed (the two extremes). Likewise, males had a significantly higher evaluation of their appearance than women did, confirming the second hypothesis. When looking at the subscales of identity exploration and identity commitment, commitment positively correlated with appearance orientation. Exploration positively correlated with fitness orientation. The average identity distress rating positively correlated to overweight preoccupation, and negatively correlated to appearance evaluation and body areas satisfaction. In regards to a DSM-IV diagnosis for identity problem, 18.9% of the sample qualified. Scores for those who met for identity problem diagnosis were significantly lower in health orientation and body areas satisfaction. The main hypothesis of this paper was that identity variables would be a significant predictor of body image. To test this hypothesis, several multiple regression analyses were calculated with the demographic variables of sex and age entered in the first step, identity status entered in the second step, and average identity distress rating entered on the third step, with each of the body image subscale scores as the dependent variable. Results indicated that the overall model was significant for appearance evaluation, fitness orientation, body areas satisfaction, and overweight preoccupation. Implications of these findings are discussed.


This item is only available in print in the UCF Libraries. If this is your thesis or dissertation, you can help us make it available online for use by researchers around the world by downloading and filling out the Internet Distribution Consent Agreement. You may also contact the project coordinator Kerri Bottorff for more information.

Thesis Completion





Berman, Steven L.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program



Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

This document is currently not available here.