Does parental socioeconomic background influence body image and attachment style among university students? Evidence from a European cross-sectional study

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In order to investigate the impact of parental socioeconomic background on university students’ body image and social attachment, in this article we explore to what extent this relation is reinforced or modified by a third variable: overweight and obesity. For this purpose, the study draws on a cross-sectional data set (n = 980) of university students from Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Croatia and the Czech Republic. Based on the combination of the Body Esteem Scale (BES) and the Attachment Style Scale (WASQ), we created four types of students: “double jeopardy students”, “well-balanced students”, “nurturing solitude students” and “social mirroring students”. We used a simple linear probability model and regression analyses to test our hypothesis. We found that more than half of the “double jeopardy” (53%) and “social mirroring” (60%) students have low-income parents, and the overweight problem cut across these two groups of undergraduates. The students that scored highest on the overall mental well-being scale were the “well-balanced” students. The impact of parental socioeconomic background on body image and social attachment style between fields of studies is similar to that between “double jeopardy” or “well-balanced” students, regardless of whether they belong to the humanities and social sciences or natural and technical sciences. Our results indicate that high parental income increased resistance to poor body image and social attachment, and students who are overweight and/or obese are more likely to have poor body image and social attachment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
Pages (from-to)613–624
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 259877739