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Dimensions of interpersonal perception among young women : self-categorisation theory to social influences upon dietary behaviour


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McCormack, Anna Louise 2010 , 'Dimensions of interpersonal perception among young women : self-categorisation theory to social influences upon dietary behaviour', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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A card-sort task was used to investigate whether, consistent with current thinking on
self-categorisation theory (SCT) (Tajfel, 1975; Turner et al., 1987), young women
without external prompting dichotomise the continuum of female attractiveness to yield
perceptions in terms of two categorical groups, "attractive" and "unattractive". The
project was split into three stages. In stages 1 and 2, 50 female undergraduate students,
were asked to list, rank in order of importance, and describe the features of the various
categories that they thought females fall into, and which are socially significant and
worth distinguishing between. In stage 3 the associated features of the five most
common categorical attributes generated by participants - Intelligence, Body Shape,
Attractiveness, Sincerity and Friendliness - were built into the deck of cards for the
card-sort task and used to determine which of those attributes contribute most
powerfully to card sorting dimensions. 200 female undergraduate students were asked
to study the pack of stimulus cards, imagine the types of people described, and then sort
them into groups based on similarity. Each participant's level of Public Self
Consciousness (PBSC) and Body Mass Index (BMI) was measured and the participants
were split into four groups, applying median splits to PBSC and BMI. It was predicted
that relative to the other categorical attributes, "attractive" and "unattractive" would
feature prominently in participants' card sorts, as indicated by multidimensional scaling
analysis (MDS), but that the card-sorting process would also be influenced by
participants' own BMI and level of PBSC. Participants were able to successfully
generate a number of important categories that they felt young women fall into
including 'Attractiveness' and 'Body Shape'. Low BMI participants placed
significantly more emphasis on the resultant body shape MDS dimension than High
BMI participants, who appeared to value friendliness and sincerity over attractiveness
and body shape. A close to significant difference between High and Low PBSC participants on the body shape dimension also suggested that High PBSC participants
place more emphasis on the body shape dimension than Low PBSC participants. The
findings suggest while attractiveness may indeed lie on a continuum, it can also be
categorized, and that SCT is a useful framework for the well documented modelling of
food choices in female eating interactions (Burtt, 1994; Daly, 2002; Eschler; 1999;
Pettit, 1998; McCormack, 2004).

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:McCormack, Anna Louise
Keywords: Young women, Beauty, Personal, Eating disorders in women
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MPsych(Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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