Objectified body consciousness and mental health in female adolescents: Cross-cultural evidence from Georgian and Swiss national samples

Emily P. Kahumoku, Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Karaman Pagava, Helen Phagava, Françoise D. Alsaker, Pierre Andre Michaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose The current study tested both descriptive and explanatory similarities and differences in a latent objectified body consciousness (OBC) construct and its relationship to three mental health indicators among Georgian and Swiss adolescents. Few studies have been conducted on adolescents; similarly, most work has been completed on U.S. college-age women. Methods School-based questionnaire data were collected from a total of 18,239 adolescents in Georgia (n = 9,499) and Switzerland (n = 8,740), following the same protocol. Participants rated three measures of OBC (body shame, body surveillance, and appearance control beliefs) and three mental health indicators (depressive symptoms, somatic complaints, and suicidal ideation). Final study samples included 2,657 (mean age = 16.4 years) and 3,803 female youth (mean age = 17.8 years), respectively. Data analyses included mean level comparisons, confirmatory factor analysis, path analysis, and multigroup invariance tests. Results Findings provide support for a latent OBC construct across cultures, with partial evidence of cultural differences (one of two manifest indicators). By contrast, multigroup invariance tests provide consistent evidence of no differences in the relationships between the OBC latent construct and three mental health indicators between Georgian and Swiss samples. Conclusion Despite mean level differences, findings support a latent OBC construct in both cultures, perhaps slightly more so among Swiss youth. The links between OBC and mental health indicators were also invariant across the two cultures, providing greater support for a global or universal (vs. "cultured") framework of adolescent development related to the constructs and relationships studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are indebted to all study participants. Data collection was supported by grants from the Swiss Office for Public Health (contracts 316.5139 and 316.92.5321 ) and by cantonal/regional offices across Switzerland. Georgian data collection was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SCOPES 7 GEPj065646 ).


  • Adolescence/adolescent
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Cross-cultural
  • Cross-national
  • Georgian adolescents
  • Swiss adolescents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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