Emerging adulthood is a time of exploration when people try to understand themselves as well as their place within the world. According to Social Comparison Theory (Festinger in Hum Relat 7:117–140, 1954), one of the ways we gather such information is by comparing ourselves to others. The current research investigated the frequency and nature of these comparisons, specifically those that are appearance-focused, in emerging adult women. Furthermore, we examined how one type of exploration, sexual activity, impacts these comparisons. Seventy-five emerging adult women, aged 18–23 years old (M Age = 19.53, SD = 1.28), participated in the present study. They were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing current and past sexual activity. The questionnaire also assessed their body dissatisfaction as well as the frequency with which they make appearance-focused comparisons. The results demonstrate that females’ sexual exploration during emerging adulthood predicts a tendency to make more appearance-focused comparisons and that these comparisons are more detrimental to their body image.
Journal of Adult Development – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 9, 2017
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