Loneliness, Inhibition, and Friendlessness: Associations with Adolescents' Appearance-Related Concerns, Attractiveness, and Teasing about Appearance
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The aim of the present study was to identify which aspects relating to appearance-related concerns and social experiences, and status amongst peers, are relevant to understanding social isolation in early adolescents. In a sample 387 boys and girls (Mage = 12.0 years, 44.4% males), we assessed both objective and subjective indicators of social isolation. Specifically, social isolation was measured based on adolescents' self-reported loneliness, inhibition in social contexts, and social acceptance. We also used nominations of friendship to identify youth who had no reciprocated friends (total friendlessness) or whose closest friend was not reciprocated (close friendlessness). As predicted, adolescents who felt socially isolated (i.e., inhibited, lonely, or low social acceptance), reported more dissatisfaction with their body and concerns about peer rejection because of the way they look, as well as elevated appearance teasing by peers and by family members. These youth were also less accepted by their peers. Notably, adolescents who felt inhibited, lonely, or less socially accepted were not more likely to be friendless. Finally, adolescents were at increased odds of both total and close friendlessness when they were less accepted by their peers, while the odds of close friendlessness were higher among adolescents who reported higher body dissatisfaction and, surprisingly, lower among those who reported more appearance teasing from family members. The results of this study have implications for supporting socially isolated and vulnerable youth, and highlight the need for continued research to examine the longitudinal associations of social isolation with appearance-related concerns and social adversity.
Social Isolation, Participation and Impact on Mental Health
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Social and Community Psychology