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Kimberly Graff, Christie P. Karpiak, Ph.D.

Attachment, Body Shame, and Weight-Related Ridicule in Romantic Relationships

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This study was designed to determine if there is a connection between adult attachment, body shame, weight-related criticism and weight-related teasing in romantic relationships. The purpose of this study was to expand past research on the domains of body shame, attachment, and romantic relationships by using a non-clinical sample and by looking at criticism and teasing in romantic relationships as opposed to parent-child relationships.  This study also sought to investigate how these three variables inter-relate. The present research was conducted on 179 female college freshmen who completed the Body Shame subscale of the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale, the Adult Attachment Questionnaire, a seven-item scale on the perceived importance of body shape/size to the most recent significant other, and a self-report of BMI.  Results indicate that body shame is correlated with attachment category and attachment category is correlated with partner criticism. A significant difference in body shame was found between securely attached women and those with preoccupied or fearful attachments, with securely attached women reporting lower body shame than the others. It can also be said that securely attached women reported that their partners criticized them about their weight less often than those women who had a fearful attachment. There were no significant differences in reported amount of weight-related teasing in women with different attachment styles.

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