Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Cochran, Sam V

Second Advisor

Altmaier, Elizabeth M

First Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy N

Second Committee Member

Ali, Saba Rasheed

Third Committee Member

Andersen, Arnold E


Body image dissatisfaction at moderate levels can be a normative experience for many women of current American culture. However, women whose body dissatisfaction exceeds moderate levels are vulnerable to developing an eating disorder. Empirical findings show body dissatisfaction predicts low self-esteem, depression, and overall poor quality of life.

Various theories aim to understand factors involved in the development and maintenance of body dissatisfaction. Sociocultural factors, such as peers, family, and media, have gained the greatest empirical support. The tripartite influence model of body image dissatisfaction and eating disturbance integrates sociocultural factors, and has been empirically tested to evaluate risk factors using an established theoretical model. However, this model has primarily been applied to Caucasian samples.

A recent trend in the body image literature is increasing attention to ethnic differences in body image. Jews are an ethnic minority who has been virtually ignored in the empirical literature on body image; yet, studies suggest Jewish females experience body dissatisfaction. To date, no published empirical study has applied the tripartite influence model to Jewish American females. A sociocultural model can potentially increase understanding of body dissatisfaction among Jewish American females.

This study used the tripartite influence model to examine relationships among variables (Jewish identity, parental influence, internalization of appearance) hypothesized to relate to body image dissatisfaction. Participants were 255 self-identified Jewish American women who completed a web-based survey measuring these constructs.

Results showed a significant, yet weak, relationship between Jewish identity and body dissatisfaction. Contrary to prediction, Jewish women perceived greater pressure from fathers to lose weight than mothers, and no difference in pressure from both parents to gain weight and gain muscle. As perceived pressure from fathers to lose weight increases, women reported greater body dissatisfaction. A significant but weak relationship was found between perceived pressure from fathers to gain muscle and body dissatisfaction. The more women internalize media messages promoting the thin ideal for women, women reported less body satisfaction. A significant but low correlation was found between women who endorsed the "toned," athletic body ideal and body dissatisfaction.


body dissatisfaction, body image, body image dissatisfaction, Jewish women, Tripartite Influence Model


ix, 130 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 117-130).


Copyright 2009 Stefanie Teri Greenberg