Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Nancy Thurston

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal

Third Advisor

Mary Franzen Clark


Current research in the fields of shame, body image, and adolescent female weight has had little convergence until recently. Biological changes that occur during adolescence, particularly weight gain for females, may result in feelings of shame. Shame is an involuntary reaction to the belief that the self is inherently flawed. Body image begins to form in early childhood, and "is a multidimensional construct that refers to subjective perceptual and altitudinal experiences about one's body, particularly one's physical appearance" (Cash, Melnyk, & Hrabosky, 2004, p.305). Body image may be negatively impacted when the adolescent female's belief that her actual body is at odds with her internalized body ideal.

This study examined body image and shame of average weight and obese adolescent females. Eighty females from northwest high schools and church youth groups were administered The Body Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults (Mendelson, White, & Mendelson, 1 997), the Thurston Cradock Test of Shame (TCT) (Thurston & Cradock, 1 998), and were assessed for weight according to the Body Mass Index (Wilson and Jeffrey's study as cited in Hersen & Bellack, 1 988). Participants also filled out a demographic questionnaire.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two TCT presentation conditions. Half of the participants were given the revised card six (an obese child being punished) and the other half were given the original card six (a non-obese child being punished).

Shame, as measured by the TCT, did not have a significant relationship with the participants' BMI or the participants' Body Esteem Scale (BES)-appearance (subscale) rating, neither did the resolution scores of the TCT cards. The only significant differences were revealed between testing locations (private high schools, public high schools, or church youth group).

Future research may benefit from revising this study. Location differences indicate focus on matching the selection sample by either testing at all public high schools, all private high schools, or all youth groups may limit sample variance. A clinical interview that includes history of environmental influences (home, school, peers, media, etc.) which have contributed to how the individual's body image developed is also worth considering for future research.

Included in

Psychology Commons