WHEN THE RELATIONSHIP BECOMES HER: REVISITING WOMEN'S BODY CONCERNS FROM A RELATIONSHIP CONTINGENCY PERSPECTIVE

Authors


  • Diana T. Sanchez, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University; Tracy Kwang, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

  • We would like to especially thank Jennifer Crocker, Dan Ogilvie, Eric Saltzman, Laurie Rudman, and Margaret J. Shih for their helpful comments during the preparation of this manuscript.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Diana Sanchez, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, 53 Avenue E, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8040. E-mail: disanche@rutgers.edu

Abstract

Given women's communally oriented socialization and social pressures to find romantic partners, many heterosexual women may derive self-worth from having romantic relationships (relationship contingency). Across two studies, we explored whether relationship contingency heightens women's body shame. Studies 1A and 1B found that relationship contingency causes body shame among women. In Study 2, relationship contingency predicted greater bulimic symptoms, which was mediated fully by greater body shame. Using both experimental methods and structural equation modeling, these studies demonstrate a link between relationship contingency and body shame that is not explained by appearance contingency (basing self-esteem on one's physical appearance). Results are discussed in terms of self-objectification theory, contingencies of self-worth, mate preferences, and close relationships.

Ancillary