Date Approved

2020

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Carol R. Freedman-Doan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chong Man Chow, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Karen K. Saules, Ph.D.

Abstract

Disordered eating behaviors occur at high rates among adolescent girls of all ethnicities and are associated with increased risk of eating disorders. Maternal influences such as maternal disordered eating, childhood feeding practices, and the mother-teen relationship quality have been implicated as risk factors for disordered eating in adolescent girls, but few studies have examined the interplay of these influences within a single model, controlling for adolescent age. To address this gap, the current study proposed a theoretical model and tested a series of moderated mediation pathways from maternal disordered eating to disordered eating behaviors in female adolescents. The model was examined using an existing dataset from a diverse sample of 100 mother-daughter dyads, with adolescents aged 10 to 18 years. Contrary to expectations, mothers’ and adolescents’ disordered eating were not significantly related. Results provided partial support for paths between disordered maternal eating and unhealthy feeding, as well as unhealthy feeding and disordered adolescent eating. Specifically, model paths were supported when both variables were reported by the same informant (i.e., mother or daughter) but not when variables were reported by different informants (i.e., mother and daughter). Mother-daughter closeness moderated the feeding–adolescent eating association, such that greater emotional feeding was associated with more emotional eating among adolescents reporting average or low closeness, but not high closeness. Mother-daughter discord was not a significant moderator of model paths. Findings suggest that a close mother-daughter relationship may serve as a buffer against the negative impact of unhealthy feeding behaviors in adolescent disordered eating. In addition, results underscore the importance of informant perspective in dyadic research and suggest that individuals understand and interpret their own and others’ behaviors through an internally consistent lens.

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