Childhood shyness : a risk factor for the development of weight concerns and eating disorders? (1997)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
The present study assessed weight concerns in 177 New Zealand children aged between 11 and 13, and the relationship between weight concerns and shyness, with the aim of investigating whether childhood social anxiety may be a risk factor for the development of eating disorders. Concerns about weight were assessed using Killen et al.'s (1994) Weight Concerns Scale. Shyness was conceptualised according to Buss' (1986) theory of self conscious and fearful shy subtypes, and assessed using the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire's (Capaldi & Rothbart, 1992) shyness-, fearfulness-, and autonomic reactivity subscales, and the Imaginary Audience Scale (Elkind & Bowen, 1979). As many as 1 in 4 girls expressed a degree of weight concerns that might put them at risk of developing disordered eating according to Killen et al.'s (1994) cut-off score on the Weight concerns scale, whereas concerns about weight were much less common in boys. No significant relationship between shyness and weight concerns was found for either gender. Self-consciousness, fearfulness, and autonomic reactivity appeared to become more positively related to weight concerns with increased age for girls. Due to the lack of support for a relationship between weight concerns and childhood shyness as expressed in behavioural inhibition, it is suggested that the nature of the social anxiety possibly related to weight concerns and eating disorders might be better captured by theories of shyness and social anxiety that do not involve behavioural inhibition. Future studies might benefit from including measures of fear of negative evaluation as well as a wide range of cognitive, affective, behavioural, and physiological measures of social anxiety. Given the complexity of the changing relationship between weight concerns and psychological factors across development, it is argued that exploratory research using qualitative methods could provide a better understanding of children's concerns about their weight and how it may relate to aspects of social anxiety.
KeywordsBashfulness in children; Anxiety in children; Body image in children; Eating disorders in children--Risk factors
RightsAll Rights Reserved
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