Date Approved

4-25-2008

Date Posted

12-15-2009

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Michelle R. Byrd, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Renee R. Lajiness-O’Neill, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martha W. Tack, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Silvia von Kluge, Ph.D., Chair

Abstract

Eating pathology is an increasing problem in the United States and other Western countries. This study examined gender differences and specific known psychological correlates of eating pathology. Sociocultural variables, such as thin-ideal internalization, and individual factors, such as perfectionism and experiential avoidance, were also evaluated. A sample of 257 female and 165 male undergraduates (n = 423) completed a battery of surveys online. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to model the relationships among the variables. The results show that the best fitting model included perfectionism rather than thin-ideal internalization leading to body dissatisfaction. There is support for experiential avoidance as a mediating variable between body dissatisfaction, dieting, and thin-idealization and binge eating. Results also show that men engaged in more binge eating and exercise than women and less vomiting and laxative use than women. These findings suggest that individual factors, specifically perfectionism and experiential avoidance, are strongly related to eating pathology, particularly binge eating.

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