Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Psychology

First Advisor

White, Lyle

Abstract

Adolescents confront a plethora of physical and emotional changes, especially those alterations surrounding puberty. Body image disturbances have become commonplace with high school students, and school personnel seem to have had little success in fighting this problem. Teenagers with body dissatisfaction may also be at risk for mental health problems, such as depression and eating disorders. Gifted adolescents may be particularly susceptible to mental health issues due to a number of specialized issues including overexcitability and social coping ability (Gatto-Walden, 1999). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among body dissatisfaction, gender, type of student (gifted or typical), overall overexcitability, social coping, and an interaction between gender and type of student. A diverse group of 489 participants from six Illinois school districts participated in the study, including 268 females (54.8%), 216 males (44.2%), 4 students identifying as "other" regarding gender (0.8%); one student did not respond to that question (0.2%), and they ranged in age from 14 to 20 (M = 16.6, SD = 1.2). The overall regression model was statistically significant, F(5, 469) = 9.31, p < .001, R2 = .09. The adjusted R2 was .081, which indicated that 8.1% of the variance in body dissatisfaction was explained by the model. This effect was medium in magnitude and consistent with previous research with body dissatisfaction. The results support the idea that gender, overall overexcitability, and social coping significantly explained body dissatisfaction, but being gifted (i.e., type of student) did not significantly contribute to the regression model. In addition, the results did not support a gender by type of student interaction. These findings are interesting in that previous research has linked giftedness and overexcitability, but these variables were not strongly correlated in the current study. However, this information has yielded some important implications for school counselors, clinical mental health counselors, and counselor educators. The author also discussed some areas for further research.

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