This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Attachment Anxiety as a Moderator for the Relationship Between Maternal Influence and Body Image Dissatisfaction Among Women




Dyas, K Christine

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


Body image dissatisfaction (BID) is a significant concern for women in the United States. The current study (N=244) builds on previous BID research by exploring maternal appearance-focused influence in terms of modeling behaviors and commentary focused on the self and the child. Further, the role of attachment anxiety as a moderator in this relationship was explored. It was hypothesized that higher attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, and maternal appearance-focused influence would all serve as unique predictors for greater BID. Further, it was hypothesized that attachment anxiety would significantly moderate the relationship between maternal appearance-focused influence and BID. Body image dissatisfaction was assessed using two outcomes: body surveillance and body shame. Two hierarchical linear regression analyses were used to analyze the data. In this sample, only the control variables of eating disorder history and body image ideals were significantly related to body surveillance. Predictors (except attachment avoidance) were significant in the analysis of body shame. Subsequent analysis of the moderation effect showed a significant positive relationship between maternal appearance-focused influence and body shame for individuals reporting low attachment anxiety. Results indicated a nonsignificant positive relationship for those reporting high attachment anxiety. The findings of this study could help advance research about body shame among young women. Results emphasize the importance of appearance-focused language and behaviors used around young women. Clinically, results could be used to support the incorporation of mothers and relational work into treatment planning for body image and eating concerns.