Body Image, Self Esteem and Eating Relationship | Methods


In this chapter, we are going to discuss the research design, respondents, instrument, procedure and data analysis that we use at doing the research study. For our research, we used Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ-16B), Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE), and Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) at investigating the relevance of body image with both self-esteem and eating attitudes. Furthermore, participants were focused at female Foundation students of UTAR. Details were further discussed in our following subtopic.

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Research Design

Research design is defined as a tool to gather relevant evidence that involve with a specification of the type of useful evidences needed for answering our research question, testing a theory and to describing some phenomenon shown (McGaghie, Bordage, Crandall, & Pangaro, 2001). In other words, research design is to answer the primary question as suggested in our research clear enough from the uncertainty. In this study, a quantitative research with cross-sectional design was selected to use. A quantitative research refers to an empirical method used to explain phenomena by collecting numerical data. The term cross-sectional design implies that one or more samples are drawn from the population at one point of time (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, & Zechmeister, 2010).

In addition, a purposive sampling particularly the stratified purposeful sampling was utilized in this research. In a purposive sample, the sample is typically designed to pick a small number of cases that will yield the most information about a particular phenomenon. In other words, it involves selecting information-rich cases for in-depth study. Purposive sampling leads to greater depth of information from a smaller number of carefully selected cases (Teddlie & Yu, 2007). On the other hand, a stratified purposeful sampling presenting and providing characteristics of particular subgroups of interest and facilitates comparison. It involves capture major variations rather than to identify a common core (Patton, 1990).


The female Foundation students in UTAR (Perak Campus) have been targeted as the population of this research. There are 1427 female Foundation students and a sample consisted of 100 students (N=100) from both science and art streams participated in this study. In balancing the body size groups, 50 plump and 50 thin female participants between the ages of 18 to 23 years old (M= 20.16, SD= 1.45) were selected.

This study focused on female Foundation students is that they are at a much higher rate to experience body image disturbance and disordered eating than males (Serdar, n.d.). In having adjustment to new lifestyle, females might have thought changing and more aware of themselves and how others perceive them as they meet more new people in the new environment. Whereas, the relationship between body image dissatisfaction and eating disorders has not significantly correlated with males (Furnham, Badmin, & Sneade, 2002; Wimbish, 2009) and hence, the study did not include males to prevent the possibility of producing extreme scores.


Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ-16B). The BSQ 16-item is a refined self-report questionnaire developed by Evans and Dolan (1993) to assess body dissatisfaction and concern over body shape. Participants rate the items based on a six-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = never to 6 = always with higher scores indicate greater body shape dissatisfaction. Items are all presented as self-statement such as “Have you been afraid that you might become fat (or fatter)?” (item 2) and “Has seeing your reflection (e.g. in a mirror or shop window) made you feel bad about your shape?” (item 13). The BSQ-16B has been found to be a reliable and valid measure of body image satisfaction as it had been shown to have good test-retest reliability (.88) (Hudson, 2008) and excellent internal consistency (.95) (Pook, Tuschen-Caffier, & Brahler, 2008).

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE). The RSE is a 10-item self-report questionnaire developed by Rosenberg (1965) to measure global self-esteem level of participants in this study. Participants rate the items based on a four-point Likert scale, ranging from 3 = strongly agree to 0 = strongly disagree with higher scores indicate higher level of self-esteem. Items are all presented as self-evaluation on positive self-esteem (item 1, 3, 4, 7, 10) and negative self-esteem (item 2, 5, 6, 8, 9). RSE has been found to have good test-retest correlations of .82 to .88 and internal consistency of .77 to .88 (Hudson, 2008), which indicate the test is having high reliability of measure self-esteem.

Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26). The EAT 26-item is an abbreviated version developed by Garner, Olmstead, Bohr, and Garfinkel (1982) from the original scale which is EAT-40. EAT-26 is a most widely used standardized self-report questionnaire to measure the symptoms and concerns characteristics of eating disorders. Participants rate the items based on a six-point Likert scale (3 = always, 2 = usually, 1 = often, 0 = sometimes, 0 = rarely, 0 = never) with a cutoff scores of 20 had been suggested to identify persons with problematic attitudes and behaviors towards eating. Items are presented in three subscales: 1) Dieting (item 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 26), 2) Bulimia and food preoccupation (item 3, 4, 9, 18, 21, 25), and 3) Oral control (item 2, 5, 8, 13, 15, 19, 20). The EAT-26 has been shown to have a good intercorrelations with EAT-40 (r = .98) and good internal consistency (.90) in non-clinical populations (Garner et al., 1982).


In this study, the reliability of variables has been analyzed. The results of Cronbach’s Alpha reliability test showed that all the scales are highly reliable of BSQ-16B (16 items; ? = .94), RSE (10 items; ? = .737), and EAT-26 (26 items; ? = .791) (Appendix ).


Before the commencement of questionnaire distribution, proper liaison was made by sending a formal letter to gain the permission from Centre for Foundation Studies (Perak Campus) to retrieve data on the population number of female Foundation students.

After the permission was granted, the survey was conducted at Block B, C, and D of UTAR Perak Campus which Foundation students are majority gathers. The questionnaires were distributed manually to the potential participants. A consent form was attached to the questionnaire and the nature of the study was explained clearly to participants. The participants will not able to take part in the survey if they did not give the consent to the student researchers. Furthermore, the total score of EAT-26 (Section D) had been counted on the spot once the participant completed the questionnaire. Participants with a score of 20 or more or answered affirmatively to any of the behavioral questions had been suggested to seek evaluation from mental health professional.

The questionnaires were collected from the participants with 100% response rate. Each questionnaire was checked to ensure there were balanced numbers of participants from both groups. The completed questionnaires were then later analyzed.

Data Analysis

Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) Version 20.0 was used during the analysis of data. The demographic data was analyzed by using descriptive statistics to measure the mean, standard deviation, and frequency of age and body size group. The first research question was analyzed by mean and standard deviation on measuring the body image satisfaction level between thin and plump female Foundation students. Next, Independent Sample t-Test was used to test the second research question to determine the mean difference of body image satisfaction and eating attitudes between thin and plump female. Furthermore, the third and forth research question were tested by using Pearson’s Coefficient of Correlation on accessing the relationship between body image satisfaction with self-esteem and eating attitudes respectively to examine whether there is any positive or negative significant relationship between these variables. The level of significant difference (p-value) was adopted at <0.05 for t-Test and <0.01 for Correlation, while confidence interval (CI) was adopted at 95%.


Shaughnessy, J. J., Zechmeister, E. B., & Zechmeister, J. S. (2010). Research methods in psychology (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

McGaghie, W. C., Bordage, G., Crandall, S., & Pangaro, L. (2001). Method: Research design. Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 76(9), 929-930.

Patton, M. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods [Adobe Digital Editions version]. Retrieved from

Teddlie, C., & Yu, F. (2007). Mixed method sampling: A typology with examples. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(1), 77-100. Doi: 10.1177/2345678906292430

Serdar, K. L. (n.d.). Female body image and the mass media: Perspectives on how women internalize the ideal body standard. Retrieved from

Furnham, A., Badmin, N., & Sneade, I. (2002). Body image dissatisfaction: Gender differences in eating attitudes, self-esteem, and reasons for exercise. The Journal of Psychology, 136(6), 581-596.

Wimbish, T. R. (2009). Eating disorders, body-image dissatisfaction, and drive for muscularity in African American gay and straight men (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3391518)

Pook, M., Tuschen-Caffier, B., & Brahler, E. (2008). Evaluation and comparison of different versions of the Body Shape Questionnaire. Psychiatry Research, 158, 67-73. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2006.08.002

Garner, D. M., Olmstead, M. P., Bohr, Y., & Garfinkel, P. E. (1982). The Eating Attitudes Test: Psychometric features and clinical correlates. Psychological Medicine, 12, 871-878.

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