Thesis Title

A Correlational Study of the Effects of Acculturation and Body Image on the Perceptions of Obesity and Thiness by Latin Women

Graduation Date

Summer 2002

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC


This study examined the effects of acculturation on body image in the Latina population in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thirty-two Latina women volunteered to participate in a small group study in which each woman rated their current and ideal body image by selecting figure line drawings of images ranging from extremely thin to extremely obese. Each woman also participated by filling out three questionnaires measuring levels of acculturation, body shape, and attitudes toward appearance. Results for the study were gathered using quantitative research methods. The research was primarily quantitative, focusing on the scores from each scale. Results indicated that different levels of acculturation did not affect body image perceptions. Results did indicate that current versus ideal body image matched the scores presented on body shape and attitudes toward appearance. There is a need to further examine body image development within the field of art therapy, since much can be learned from the use of images in cultural responses to the understanding of the self as applicable to assessment and treatment of culturally diverse populations. In order to improve the statistical power of this study, further research should include a larger cross-cultural sample size including women and men from all cultures.