Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Tamara Loverich

Committee Member

Karen Saules

Committee Member

James Todd


Anorexia nervosa is an extremely dangerous eating disorder whose etiology has recently been examined in relation to difficulties in emotion regulation. The phenomenon of pro-anorexia (pro-ana) on social media sites and websites has also received recent attention; however, the functions served by these pro-ana accounts are not well understood. Thus, the present study aimed to examine the possible functions of these accounts, particularly with regard to emotion regulation, through the use of a Grounded Theory analysis. An emotion expression function was supported in this analysis, in addition to seven other functions: defining anorexia as a lifestyle, identity, or disease; discussion of anorexia as cyclically relapsing and recovering; defining what it means to be thin; defining the self as either fat or thin and thus worthless or good; motivating continued engagement in disordered eating; soliciting positive or negative attention from others; and the importance of images in the service of other functions. These functions of pro-ana social media sites can be used to improve treatment and support for those affected by anorexia nervosa both online and offline.

Included in

Physiology Commons