The Relationship Between Body Dissatisfaction and Eating Disorder Among Exercisers (Part 4)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sue-Yee Tan, Wan-Ping Yew

1.5 Theoretical Framework

The self-discrepancy theory of uses arose originally in 1987 and was developed by Tony Higgins. The theory is an attempt to identify different types of selves in relation to divergent beliefs that produced emotional vulnerabilities among people (Higgins. 1987).

There are three types of selves introduced in the theory. Firstly, the two ‘actual’ self – in which people perceive who they really are and also believe how the others actually think of them. Second is the ‘ideal’ self, which is when an individual would like themselves to possess certain qualities. Third, is the ‘ought’ self, in which indicates people believe they should own the required characteristics.

According to Higgins (1987), the standpoint of the self is defined as ‘a point of view from which you can be judged that reflects a set of attitudes or values’, and the standpoint is divided into two outlines; firstly, an individual’s own personal standpoint; and secondly, the standpoint of significant others such as a father, mother, or spouse. However, the self-discrepancy theory has some discrete aspects. When different types of discrepancies were involved within individuals, different degrees of emotion vulnerability can be produced.

The theory is applicable in the present study because self-discrepancy does not merely affect one’s emotions but it also influences their perceptions of their own body shape. Furthermore, the level of satisfaction with their body shape differed with the discrepancy between the ‘ideal’ self and ‘actual’ self. If these two selves do not correspond, an individual would perceive their body image negatively due to the incongruent self-representations, and be more vulnerable to a body image disturbance; and vice-versa.

Hence, it is assumed that body dissatisfaction is associated with the tendency of developing an eating disorder, where the three types of selves proposed in the self-discrepancy theory could influence one’s vulnerable emotions that may affect one’s eating behavior.

(to be continued)


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