Research Report on Correlation between Self-Esteem and Body Image among Adolescents

“Body image” entails a person’s body-related self-attitude and self-perceptions, also linked to “self-esteem” issues. Adolescents undergo massive body alterations in their developmental process and are more expected to encounter greatly dynamic opinions concerning body image. Negative perception about “body image” has been linked to many psychosomatic harms ranging from major depressions to eating disorders. The present study evaluates the correlation between “body image” and “self-esteem” among adolescents. The researcher adopted a cross-sectional research study with a sample of 290 students drawn from high schools and colleges across the United States. Data is analyzed using SPSS software. Two measurement instruments, including the “Rosenberg “self-esteem” Scale (SES),” invented by Rosenberg (1965), were adopted for the study. The study outcomes indicated a significant correlation between “self-esteem” and “body image” across both boys and girls. There is a significant difference between adolescent boys and girls concerning their self-perception, while there is no significant difference in “self-esteem.”

Introduction and Background (Literature Review)

The undesirable view of “body image” and lower levels of “self-esteem” is acknowledged in the literature as serious concerns for adolescents. “Self-esteem” is intrinsically associated with thoughts concerning an individual’s body. Hence physical appearance is the leading predictor of “self-esteem.” “Self-esteem” refers to the negative or positive perception or attitude towards self (Seekis, Bradley & Duffy, 2017). “Body image” is the art of assessing one’s body subjectively based on associated attitudes and feelings. Lower “self-esteem” leads to negative “body image” and eating disorder symptoms, and researchers are still trying to establish how to make adolescents, particularly girls, stop the perception that they have to appear attractive and skinny. Adolescent girls also develop low “self-esteem” and “body image” through media and family influence. “Body image” is the picture people form concerning their bodies in their minds. The “body image” is influenced by attitudes and beliefs and changes based on lifestyle events. Research has established a strong correlation between negative “body image” and low “self-esteem,” particularly among adolescent girls (Wichstrøm & von Soest, 2016), leading to “body image” concerns as a significant feature of “self-esteem.”


Adolescence and puberty are linked to a variety of emotional, social, and physical changes. Study shows that girls are more likely than boys to develop a concern about physical appearance, including body weight, shape, and consequently self-image. Most studies have documented a significant negative experience about “body image” by most girls and women. Most complain about body weight and size as slimness is perceived as the beautiful pattern and desirable standard for girls and young women. The pattern is even seen in adulthood, where the majority of women than men are underweight. For most overweight people, the awareness of their volume and body size dictates social reluctance, nervousness, and low “self-esteem,” reflected in one’s posture and attitude (Wichstrøm & von Soest, 2016). Social-cultural patterns link overweight with laziness, and most people in the same category are branded as indolent.

For adolescent girls, social and peer pressure associated with ongoing media communications concerning their bodies’ perceived ideal body shape or type leads to significant displeasure. The rise in anxiety compounds the experience because of the changes, including the girl’s physical appearance and continuous subtle comparison to their peers. Adolescent girls sometimes experience emotional self-disturbance, leading to them feeling less attractive. For example, their parents may be more critical and less optimistic concerning the child’s appearance, physical activities during adolescence (Wichstrøm & von Soest, 2016). The peers can also contribute to their discomfort, particularly when undergoing puberty and associated physical changes. The outcome of low “self-esteem” caused by negative “body image” is temporary but can cause severe complications under severe cases, including depression, delinquency, anorexia nervosa, self-inflicted injuries, and even contemplation of suicide. Study shows that “self-esteem” is linked to delinquency and school performance (Seekis, Bradley & Duffy, 2017). Adolescents with low esteem tend to perform dismally at school, while others become pregnant or impregnate their partners.

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  • There is a significant link between “self-esteem” and “body image” among adolescents
  • Adolescent girls than boys are more likely to develop a negative perception about their body image.


Research Design

A simple cross-sectional research design adopting a convenient sampling technique was applied for this study.

Participants and Sample Choice

The study adopted a sample of 290 adolescent boys and girls, 146 girls and 144 boys, drawn from different high schools and colleges across the United States. The sample comprised younger adolescents aged 12 to 15 and relatively older ones aged 15 to 19 years.

Measurements or Materials

Two measurement instruments were adopted for the study. The first one was the “Rosenberg “self-esteem” Scale (SES),” invented by Rosenberg (1965). The instrument comprises ten items, with a response scale offering three response options “strongly agree, agree, and disagree.” The researcher also used the “Body Shape Questionaire” developed by Cooper et al. (1986) for this study. The instrument comprises sixteen items, with the response proving the scores as Never=1 and Always=6, and the general school is the aggregate over all the sixteen items (Pook, Tuschen-Caffier & Brähler, 2008). The instrument was initially designed to explore the phenomenological experiences of “feeling fat” or overweight. Even though intended to evaluate body-shape issues and displeasure among women, the BSQ has occasionally been applied in men.



The researcher used a convenient sampling method to collect data. The demographic variable sheet was attached along with the data collecting instrument. The demographic sheet was administered on the sample to collect the co-relational data. Permission to collect the data was taken from the principles of the institutions, high schools, and colleges. The researcher also issued a general instruction concerning the time and purpose of the study to the respondents. The students were requested to complete the statistical data sheet based on the directions accompanying each scale. Data analysis was done using SPSS.


To examine the significance of the association between “self-esteem” and “body image” according to the varying responses obtained from male and female samples, one-way ANOVA was conducted using SPSS verses 2.1. Figure 1 shows the regression analysis on the correlation between “self-esteem” and “body image” (N=290).

Figure 1: Regression analysis on the correlation between “self-esteem” and “body image” among adolescents

Figure 1 indicates a significant correlation between “self-esteem” and “body image” among adolescent boys and girls indicated by figures p>0.05<0.05 in the table, indicating an impact (Ajmal, 2019).

Figure 2. Correlation Matrix Scores of “self-esteem” and “body image”(N=290)

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Figure 2 shows a significant connection between “self-esteem” and self-perception among adolescents. Negative responses concerning “body image” impact “self-esteem.” Hence the finding unequivocally links to this theory (Ajmal, 2019).

Figure 3. Mean, Standard Deviation, t and p Values on the Scale of “self-esteem” and “body image” for adolescents, female and male (N=290)

N=290. f=288, p>0.05 (Ajmal, 2019).

Figure 3 indicates a significant difference between adolescent boys and girls concerning their self-perception, while there is no significant difference in “self-esteem.”


            “Self-esteem” and “body image” are two factors significantly linked to one’s personality, and they are both linked together. Negative attitudes and perceptions about one’s “body image” lead to negative personality and low-esteem, while a positive perception of oneself boosts “self-esteem.” Self-perception is a factor in people’s musings concerning their personality, sentiments, mentality, and body looks. The research findings support the first hypothesis on the connection between “body image” and “self-esteem” among adolescents. Negative “body image” leads to dissatisfaction and distress with oneself, which translates into low “self-esteem.” “Self-esteem” among adolescents is boosted through positive perceptions about one’s “body image” or self (Cristiana, 2016). This supports the earlier findings from the literature review on the correlation between “self-esteem” and body image.

            The study finding also supports the second research hypothesis that adolescent girls have lower confidence levels in their “body image” than boys. Hence they are more likely to suffer low “self-esteem.” The hypothesis is based on the theory that adolescent boys are more familiar with their body image. The outcomes show that adolescent girls report lower levels of their “body image” and low “self-esteem” than boys. Studies on gender differences and “self-esteem” have shown that gender role extensively impact adolescents’ “self-esteem.”

Self-confidence is a stereotype of male characteristics, and the exhibition of self-confidence by adolescent girls is regarded as a violation of conventional gender roles. It is unsurprising for adolescent boys to display higher levels of “self-esteem” than girls (Cristiana, 2016). However, the study did not support the idea that male adolescents have higher “self-esteem” levels than females because boys with low self-confidence concerning their body image cannot have raised “self-esteem.” Even though boys are considered strong and willing to confront their positive and negative self-perception, studies have suggested that older male adolescents are equally divided on the desire to lose and gain weight. Some studies have also indicated an increased desire to build muscle among older male adolescents (Agam, Tamir & Golan, 2015). While in adulthood, there is an increased desire to lose weight among men as they age.