Young women who conform to the expectations of others are more likely than non-conformists to have a negative body image and eating disorders, a new study suggests.
Being conformist appears to be a risk factor for such disorders and may provide a target for therapeutic efforts to treat them, says Dr Lenny Vartanian of the UNSW School of Psychology and Ms Meghan Hopkinson, a student in the Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, in a report published in the journal Body Image.
The researchers also found that young women who are well connected into social networks are less likely to be conformists and so less likely to develop a negative body image or bulimic symptoms.
The study involved 300 American college students with an average age of 19 and aimed to investigate links between social connectedness and conformity and how they relate to an individual's body image.
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