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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Disordered eating and vulnerability to the social norm of thinness
by Wang, Shirley S., Ph.D., Yale University, 2007, 104; 3267391
Abstract (Summary)

Social normative influence plays a role in promoting dieting and eating disorder symptoms among college women. The desire to minimize discrepancy from a perceived norm important to the social group impacts individuals' attitudes and behaviors, and the norm of thinness is a salient one in the college environment. The current work focused on understanding why some women are more susceptible to this social influence than others using a performance-based paradigm, the preference-ratings task. Three variables were examined as potential moderators of the relationship between the perceived discrepancy from the norm of thinness and disordered eating symptoms: the overvaluation of weight and shape to one's self-evaluation, the degree of identification with the social group, and the importance of identification with the social group. As predicted, a strong relationship emerged between the perceived discrepancy from the norm of thinness and disordered eating symptoms. Main effects of overvaluation of weight and shape, as well as the degree of social identification, also emerged, but neither variable moderated the relationship between norm discrepancy and symptoms. In addition to overvaluing weight and shape, high-symptom women valued being a good person, friendships, personality, and family relationships significantly less compared to low-symptom women. The discussion centers on how focusing on weight and shape may come at a cost for women with eating disorders and the importance of continuing to investigate moderators of susceptibility to normative influence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Treat, Teresa A.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-B 68/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Womens studies, Public health, Psychotherapy
Keywords: Disordered eating, Eating disorders, Social norm, Thinness
Publication Number: 3267391
ISBN: 978-0-549-06511-1
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