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What can researchers interested in body image gain from including an identity perspective?

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Ann Frisén
Publicerad i Appearance Matters 8, 12-14 June, Bath, England,
Publiceringsår 2018
Publicerad vid Psykologiska institutionen
Språk en
Ämneskategorier Psykologi

Sammanfattning

Background. The importance of the body to people’s identities has long been theoretically inferred. The pioneer of identity development research, Erik Homburger Erikson, for instance described identity development as becoming grounded in the experience of one’s body. Erikson emphasized the salience of the body to identity in his description of an optimal identity development as ”a feeling of being at home in one’s body” (1968, p.165). So, from an identity theory perspective the body is salient. But, what could be gained by including an identity perspective in research about the body? What have research combining the field of identity with research fields relating to the body, such as body image, gained so far? What could be the next steps? Methods and findings. This presentation will include an overview of how theories of identity development suggest that aspects of how we relate to our bodies are important for identity development. A review of the major findings from research that has combined an identity perspective with a focus on the body will also be presented and the challenges as well as possible next steps for this line of research will be discussed. Results from an interview study focusing on aspects of the body that are relevant for identity with 121 young adults (62 women and 59 men) will also be presented. Discussion. There are several reasons why researchers interested in the body could have an advantage of involving perspectives of identity development. One reason is that theories on identity development provide a broader theoretical framework for the understanding of the importance of the body in people’s lives. The developmental theory of embodiment (Piran, 2017)will be discussed in relation to combining an identity perspective with body-related research. Hopefully, researchers might be able to begin to deepen both the body and the identity literatures by exploring the ways in which they interconnect.

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