Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

J. Kevin Thompson

Keywords

comments, body image, eating disorders, feedback

Abstract

This study involves the development and validation of a measure of physical appearance-related comments, The Verbal Commentary on Physical Appearance Scale (VCOPAS). Previous research has shown that the development of body image and eating disturbances is greatly influenced by teasing and negative appearance-related feedback. The limited research on positive appearance-related feedback is likely due to the lack of an empirically validated scale of positive appearance-related commentary. Consequently, the VCOPAS was developed to assess the frequency and effect of positive appearance-related comments and other types of appearance-related comments. In Study 1, 50 undergraduate female students of ages 18 to 25 completed the revised VCOPAS and 8 of these students also attended a focus group session. The revised VCOPAS and its subscales demonstrated adequate internal consistency. This scale was subsequently modified based on the findings of Study 1.

In Study 2, 320 undergraduate female students of ages 18 to 25 completed the VCOPAS. Factor analyses indicated that four factors should be retained. The VCOPAS and its subscales exhibited low to high internal consistencies. Study 3 was a confirmatory factor analysis study that used 246 undergraduate female students of ages 18 to 25. An exploratory factor analysis was also conducted to cross-validate the VCOPAS with a new sample. Given the importance of interpretability and theory in scale development, a four-factor model was retained for the final VCOPAS. The final VCOPAS consists of 26 items and contains four subscales (Negative Appearance, Positive Body, Positive General Appearance, and Exercise Commentary). The total scale and subscales demonstrated adequate internal consistency and test-retest reliability.

Significant correlations were found between a number of VCOPAS subscales and measures of physical appearance-related feedback, body image disturbance, self-objectification, and self-esteem. Regression analyses indicated the utility of the Negative Appearance, Positive Body, and Positive General Appearance subscales in predicting body image disturbance. It seems that different types of appearance-related commentary influence the body image of females in distinct ways. The VCOPAS is likely to be useful in future research examining the role of appearance-related commentary, specifically positive appearance-related commentary, in the development of body image and eating disturbances among females.

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