When ideals are too "far off": Physical self-ideal discrepancy and body dissatisfaction in japan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is much evidence that young Japanese adults manifest relatively low body esteem—a phenomenon often explained as an outcome of modesty or limited need for self-enhancement. The author sought to identify additional determinants of this phenomenon and to explain its sources by examining the relationship between several presumed factors and level of body satisfaction rated by 263 Japanese students. The findings confirm earlier evidence of low body satisfaction among young Japanese adults and indicate that it is predicted mainly by a discrepancy between perceptions of the actual body and the ideal, self-esteem, and a predisposition to interpersonal phobia. Although some of the factors revealed are relevant to other cultures as well, the relatively wide discrepancy between self and ideal body and predisposition to interpersonal phobia may characterize young Japanese adults in particular and stem from a specific historical background. Overall, the results suggest that culture has a significant role in shaping collective body images in Japan and that a broader conceptualization of physical self-ideal discrepancy may better explain divergent levels of body satisfaction across cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-364
Number of pages32
JournalGenetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2004


  • Body esteem
  • Body ideal
  • Body satisfaction
  • Cross-cultural psychology
  • Interpersonal phobia
  • Japanese personality
  • Physical self-ideal discrepancy
  • Self-enhancement
  • Self-esteem
  • Taijin kyōfushō

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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