The Japanese Journal of Health Psychology
Online ISSN : 2187-5529
Print ISSN : 0917-3323
ISSN-L : 0917-3323
Age and gender differences in body image over the life span: Relationships between physical appearance, health and functioning
Shimpei AndoHisao Osada
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2009 Volume 22 Issue 2 Pages 1-16

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Abstract

This research investigates gender and age differences in men and women regarding their degree of self-satisfaction with their bodies from youth to old age. Furthermore, we investigate those factors that govern body image in the middle-aged and elderly based upon hypotheses of a gradual shift in concerns from physical appearance to health and bodily functioning. Age and gender differences were measured with a questionnaire using a set of variables including body satisfaction, degree of body consciousness (related to appearance, health, and bodily functioning), and body image in a sample of 698 people between the ages of 18 and 84 years old. Participants were divided into eight groups by gender and age. We conducted a two (gender) by four (age group) two-factor analysis of variance. The results showed that women had lower levels of body satisfaction than men, and these gender differences did not diminish with age. The youngest age group was significantly more dissatisfied with their bodies and showed a higher degree of appearance related consciousness than did other age groups of both genders. Furthermore, women showed a higher degree of appearance related consciousness than men. The oldest age group was more conscious of their health and functioning than the late adulthood group. Concern with appearance tended to decrease gradually with age; the youngest age group had more negative appearance body images than older age groups. Regarding health and functioning, the oldest age group of women tended to have more negative body mages than their male counterparts. Despite the decline of physical appearance in adulthood, the results showed that the older generation held positive attitudes towards their bodies. This discrepancy is presumed to indicate that older generations did not attach as much importance to their physical appearance, and that younger generations were under greater pressure to pursue ideal body images of a thin body.

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© 2009 The Japanese Association of Health Psychology
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