Body dissatisfaction and its relation to Big Five personality factors and self-esteem in young adult college women in India

Indian J Psychiatry. 2019;61(4):400-404. doi: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_367_18.


Introduction: Eating disorders are increasingly becoming common among men and women across the world. Body dissatisfaction is found to be one of the prominent risk factors for the development and maintenance of eating disorders. Research suggests that the internalization of culturally unattainable ideals is in fact mediated by self-esteem and personality factors such as high neuroticism, perfectionism, and impulsiveness. Studies on body image concerns in the cultural context of the Indian population are limited. We aimed to study the prevalence of body image dissatisfaction and its association with self-esteem and personality traits among young Indian women.

Materials and methods: Using a cross-sectional design we studied on 555 female college students of North India. Data was collected using self-reported questionnaires: Sociodemographic pro forma, Body Shape Questionnaire (-8C), Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale, and Mini-International Personality Item Pool.

Results: The mean age of the participants in the study was 22.24 years (±2.75). Twenty-seven percent of the participants had moderate-to-severe body concern. Body shape dissatisfaction significantly correlated with higher body mass index (BMI) (rs = 0.12, P = 0.003) and lower self-esteem (rs = -0.22, P < 0.001). Among the personality traits, only neuroticism (beta = 0.35, P = 0.01) and conscientiousness (beta = 0.29, P = 0.031) significantly predicted body shape dissatisfaction.

Conclusion: A significant percentage of young women in this study had a negative body image associated with higher BMI, lower self-esteem, high neuroticism, and high conscientiousness. Thus, consideration of individual variations in personality traits and self-esteem is important understanding body image concerns. This can help in selection of better interventions in the treatment of body image dissatisfaction.

Keywords: Body image dissatisfaction; personality traits; young women.