Role of parent-child attachment and cognitive coping strategies in body image dissatisfaction
Background/Aims: Body image dissatisfaction has been raised as a major concern of adolescents today. To alleviate this problem for adolescents, parental relationships have been highlighted as a target for treatment. Method: This thesis is composed of a systematic review (Journal Article 1) and an empirical study (Journal Article 2). Journal Article 1: The systematic review explored evidence on the relationship between parental attachment and body image dissatisfaction. Results: This review provides mixed findings which indicate that greater specificity with regards to participant characteristics and features of parent-child attachment, may reveal the conditions in which there is a relationship between parental attachment and body image dissatisfaction. Journal Article 2: The empirical study aimed to do this by exploring the relationship between parental communication and body image dissatisfaction, through maladaptive cognitive coping strategies. Results: The results show the data was best accounted by a conditional indirect effect of maternal communication relating to body image dissatisfaction, through cognitive coping strategies for girls, and for both girls and boys a conditional indirect effect of paternal communication relating to body image dissatisfaction through cognitive coping strategies. Although not best accounted for by the data, exploratory results also evidenced that parental communication relates to cognitive coping strategies through body image dissatisfaction. Conclusions: These findings offer preliminary evidence into the importance of body image dissatisfaction in maintaining cognitive coping difficulties. It also raises the additional benefit of parents and in combination with intervention studies it suggests that interventions for adolescents may be able to be delivered through parents, and parent and child gender should be considered to maximise outcomes. Further research is required to test the replicability of this finding and explore the developmental process of body image dissatisfaction with regard to parental communication and maladaptive cognitive coping strategies across time.