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Dysfunctional psychological investment in appearance: are romantic relationships protective factors? - a cross-cultural study

Grant number: 14/05710-9
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): July 21, 2014
Effective date (End): July 20, 2015
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology
Principal Investigator:Sebastião de Sousa Almeida
Grantee:Maria Fernanda Laus
Supervisor abroad: Lori A. Klos
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UW-Milwaukee), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:13/04357-0 - Dysfunctional psychological investment in appearance: would be loving relationships protective factors?, BP.PD


Several biological and environmental factors have been associated with body image, but despite the importance of romantic relationships in adult life, little is known about how the emotional status of individuals is related to their image. Investment in appearance is one aspect of body image that acts largely on the perceptions and reactions of individuals who face interpersonal relationships. This component is influenced by the behavior of others and the need for social approval, which may increase an individual's investment in a pattern of socially valued appearance. Although considered a personality trait, dysfunctional investment in appearance in specific situations or at certain times may amplify its importance as a state. Considering that men and women are social beings and cultural and biological factors propel them to engage in romantic relationships, we hypothesized that the pressure experienced by single men and women to find a partner increases the investment in appearance, whereas being in a stable relationship protects individuals from experiencing such dysfunctionality. Examining different aspects of body image across cultures is important to better understand the functioning of this construct, and determining whether, how, and why it is or is not different in different populations is important. Therefore, the aim of this study is to assess the psychological investment in certain beliefs and assumptions about the importance, meaning, and influence of physical appearance on the lives of individuals who are involved or not involved in a stable romantic relationship. We also seek to establish whether cultures are different in the extent to which dysfunctional investment in appearance and other body image disorders is experienced and whether such differences are the result of social processes. This is a cross-cultural study that involves Brazil and the United States, whose national research stage is already in progress. The current research project is related exclusively to the stage that will be conducted in the United States, the data for which will be used for comparisons between the two populations. Thus, a sample of 1000 adults from the United States will complete several instruments that measure body image and relationship satisfaction to meet the research objectives. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
LAUS, MARIA FERNANDA; ALMEIDA, SEBASTIAO S.; KLOS, LORI A. Body image and the role of romantic relationships. COGENT PSYCHOLOGY, v. 5, n. 1 JUL 16 2018. Web of Science Citations: 1.

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