This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Comparing self and others' perceptions of adolescent girls' body size using figural stimuli and 3d body scans




Mahajan, Aarti

Type of Degree



Consumer Affairs


The overall objective of this study was to explore young adolescent girls’ body size perceptions and older female students’ perceptions of the adolescent girls’ body size based on a nine point figural scale. Forty-two body scan images of adolescent girls were included in a Power Point stimulus and shown to the students. The convenience sample of 107 female students ages 19- 23 was recruited in classes from the Department of Consumer Affairs at Auburn University, AL. A written instrument was used to record female students’ responses. Students were asked to rate the body scan images on the figural scale and in a separate section to assess them as to being underweight, normal, overweight and obese. Data recorded from the students and the existing data of adolescent girls’ self-perceptions were analyzed. A significant difference was found between adolescent girls’ self-perceptions of their body sizes and female students’ perceptions of those girls’ body sizes. The girls on average saw themselves smaller than female students did on the figural scale. Overweight and obese girls saw themselves as no larger than a figure 6, even if their BMI was as high as 50.6. On the figural scale, African-American adolescent girls saw themselves as larger than the Caucasian adolescent girls saw themselves. Female students most correctly identified the overweight and obese scans on the figural scale. Female students often perceived normal scans as overweight. Female students misperceived a few body scans to be underweight. The mean BMIs associated with each size category (underweight, normal, overweight, and obese) identified by female students’ for the adolescent girls’ body scan images were compared to the CDC’s BMI scores for the same ages of adolescent girls. The mean BMI scores for each size category identified by the female students were much larger than the BMI ranges classified by the CDC for 12 year old girls. For age 13, students correctly identified normal, overweight and obese sizes that fell within the BMI ranges classified by the CDC. For age 14, female students correctly identified normal and obese sizes. Overall this study indicated that adolescent girls saw their bodies as smaller by one interval on a figural scale than females in a student sample. This is consistent with other research (Lee, 2006) and indicates that adolescents’ perceptions of their body sizes differ from others perceptions. The study was limited by the number of body scans available by age and size category.