Gendered pathways to romantic attachment in emerging adults: The role of body image and parental support

Inge Seiffge-Krenke, Malte Persike, Shmuel Shulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study analyses the impact of body image and perceived parental behaviour (support and negativity) as factors that contribute to romantic attachment in emerging adulthood. In a 11-year longitudinal study on 144 females and 114 males, we assessed body image, body mass index, and perceived father's and mother's support and negativity during adolescence (at ages 14 and 17) and in emerging adulthood (age 21). At the age of 25, romantic attachment was assessed. Results of path analyses revealed that females' positive body image was consistently linked with greater parental support over time and contributed to low avoidance in romance at the age of 25, whereas perceived negativity with fathers mediated by body image contributed to more avoidance in females' later romantic relationships. In contrast, parental support and negativity during adolescence and young adulthood had no impact; only a positive body image resulted in males' low avoidance in later romantic attachment at the age of 25. The findings point to gendered socialization for males and females and highlight the importance of body image for an adaptive romantic outcome in emerging adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-548
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Keywords

  • BMI
  • Body image
  • Maternal and paternal support
  • Negativity
  • Romantic attachment

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