Sociocultural Attitudes towards Appearance, Self-Esteem and Symptoms of Body-Dysmorphic Disorders among Young Adults

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 31;16(21):4236. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16214236.


Background: Beauty and an attractive body shape are particularly important during early adulthood, as both are related to greater mating success, positive social feedback, and higher self-esteem. The media may further influence common features of beauty. We tested whether higher body-dysmorphic disorder (BDD) scores were associated with sociocultural attitudes towards appearance. Additionally, we expected that a link between higher BDD scores and higher perceived media pressure would be mediated by lower self-esteem (SE). Method: 350 young Iranian adults (mean age: 24.17 years; 76.9% females) took part in the study. Participants completed questionnaires covering sociodemographic data, sociocultural attitudes towards appearances, and SE, while experts rated participants for symptoms of body dysmorphic disorders. Results: Higher BDD scores were associated with higher scores for sociocultural attitudes towards appearance, while SE was not associated with BDD or sociocultural attitudes towards appearance. Higher scores for sociocultural attitudes towards appearance and media pressure predicted higher BDD scores, while SE had no influence. Conclusion: Among young Iranian adults, sociocultural attitudes towards appearances and BDD scores, as rated by experts', were related, while SE was not. The shared variance between symptoms of BDD and sociocultural attitudes towards appearance was low, suggesting that other factors such as mating and career concerns together with social feedback might be more important in explaining symptoms of body dysmorphic disorders.

Keywords: body dysmorphic disorder; body shape; self-esteem; sociocultural attitude towards appearances.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / psychology*
  • Body Image
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult