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25-11-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2017

Parental Attachment and Body Satisfaction in Adolescents

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2017
Tamás Dömötör Szalai, Edit Czeglédi, András Vargha, Ferenc Grezsa


Insecure attachment can contribute to various psychological problems including body dissatisfaction. It is not clarified which attachment quality, anxiety or avoidance predict lower body satisfaction, and the relationship of maternal and paternal patterns has not been distinguished yet. Our aim was to test these aspects in adolescents. Participants of the large cross-sectional survey were Hungarian children and adolescents (N = 5214, 51.6 % boys, mean age 14.8 years, SD = 2.6 years). Measures included self-reported body weight and height data, body satisfaction scale, the Experience in Close Relationships Scale—Relationship Structures, and the Child Depression Inventory. Boys had significantly higher body satisfaction, and worse maternal attachment than girls, who showed worse paternal attachment and higher depression. Higher paternal anxiety and avoidance, and maternal avoidance predicted lower body satisfaction in both genders adjusted for age and BMI (R 2 = 6.1–12.5 %). Depression fully mediated the relationship between dysfunctional maternal attachment and lower body satisfaction in both genders, between dysfunctional paternal attachment and lower body satisfaction in girls, while only partially mediated between dysfunctional paternal attachment and lower body satisfaction in boys. Dysfunctional parental attachment was associated with adolescents’ lower body dissatisfaction, mediated by the level of depression. The importance of paternal attachment was highlighted in boys’ body concerns. Results suggest that handling negative moods, parental anxiety and avoidance may be useful in the case conceptualizations and treatments related to adolescents’ body dissatisfaction that requires further assessment.

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