Chelsea Sorensen and Dr. Randy M Page, Department of Health Science
The purpose of this study is to identify appearance-related social pressure experienced by Thai adolescent females and to analyze how various sources and forms of social pressure relate to self-perceptions of body weight and appearance, body dissatisfaction, and behaviors taken to regulate body weight.
My faculty mentor and I partnered with a faculty member at either Chiang Mai University to carry out our research plan. A questionnaire, which included the Appearance-related Social Pressure Questionnaire (Helfert & Warshburger, 2011) was translated into Thai language and administered to 1539 adolescents in six Chiang Mai high schools. The questionnaire also included measures of weight satisfaction, perceived body weight, perceived attractiveness, and weight management practices. IRB approval was secured prior to data collection. Data collection was completed in June 2013.
Our administration of the Appearance-Related Social Pressure Questionnaire is the first time that this scale has been used in a sample of non-Western youth. The questionnaire includes scales that measure different types of appearancerelated pressure. This table shows the various types of appearance-related social pressure in our sample of Thai youth in comparison to a sample of German adolescents.
Results show that in general appearance-related social pressure is high among Thai adolescents, relative to the German adolescents. Thai girls experience more peer teasing and a higher degree appearance-related modeling by friends than Thai boys. However, Thai boys experience a higher degree of appearancerelated parental pressure than Thai girls. Additional analyses that we are conducting show associations between appearance-related social pressure and variables such as body mass index, weight satisfaction, grade level, and urban vs. rural school.
These results provide guidance for health promotion and prevention programs addressing body image and body weight concerns among Thai adolescents, by providing greater understanding of the pressures that Thai adolescents face concerning physical appearance and maintaining desired body shape. Results from this research were presented at the World Health Promotion Conference in Bangkok, Thailand in August 2013. They have also been accepted for presentation at the Society for Cross Cultural Research Conference in February 2014 (Charleston, South Carolina) and the Society for Research on Adolescence in March 2014 Austin, Texas).