Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Blaine J. Fowers

Second Committee Member

Laura P. Kohn-Wood

Third Committee Member

Debbiesiu Lee

Fourth Committee Member

Jeanne H. Siegel


Body dissatisfaction has become commonplace, however, it has been associated with several detrimental outcomes, including eating disorders, depression, and suicidality. Despite having larger Body Mass Indexes, African American women have reported more satisfaction with their bodies than Caucasian American women. Anxious attachment has been found to relate to body dissatisfaction; however, this study was the first to explore whether this relationship differs across ethnic groups. American societal beliefs about attractiveness and ethnic identity were also explored as potential moderators of the relationship between anxious attachment and body dissatisfaction. Purposive sampling was used to identify students from colleges with diverse ethnic representation for recruitment. Participants were 233 Caucasian American and 108 African American women recruited from ethnically diverse colleges in the Northeast and Southeast United States. Hypotheses were tested using hierarchical multiple regression and one-way analysis of covariance. Past findings regarding ethnic differences in body dissatisfaction were replicated as were findings regarding ethnic differences in attachment styles and the relationship between anxious attachment and body dissatisfaction, even after controlling for negative affect. Results of the primary analyses indicated no moderation by ethnicity of the relationship between anxious attachment and body dissatisfaction. Beliefs about attractiveness was found to moderate this relationship for Caucasian American but not African American women, and there was a trend for the moderation of the relationship between anxious attachment and body dissatisfaction by ethnic identity for the African American women in this sample. Implications for prevention and therapeutic interventions are discussed.


Ethnicity; Body Dissatisfaction; Attachment