RISK FACTORS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BULIMIA

CHRISTA RUTH COX, Marquette University

Abstract

This study investigated factors which predispose adolescent females toward bulimia. Bulimia, as a syndrome, was analyzed in the context of socio-cultural influences, particularly cultural feminine stereotypes and unrealistic bodily standards of slimness. The purpose of this study was to test variables which pertain to three major adolescent tasks, such as: securing a sex-role identity, coming to terms with the maturing body, and establishing social interactions, in order to determine to what extent these variables separately and as a combined model contribute to the development of bulimia. In addition, the question was raised as to what extent magazines and the media, by promoting cultural feminine stereotypes, affect bulimic tendencies. Out of a population of 350 females from a Catholic high school for girls, 211 participated in this study. The mean age was 15.7. Research questions addressed the relationships among Sex Role Identity, including Attitudes toward Women; Body Esteem, with its three factors: Weight concern, Physical Condition, and Sexual Attractiveness; Self-Esteem; Social Interaction Style, with its three dimensions: Public Self-Consciousness, Fear of Negative Evaluation, and Social Anxiety; and Media Influence to find out to what extent each variable separately and as a combined model contributes to the development of bulimia. Data analysis was descriptive and correlational. According to multiple regression analyses: (1) Sex Role Identity did not contribute to the development of bulimic tendencies. (2) One aspect of Body Esteem, the Weight Concern factor, affected bulimic tendencies. A negative attitude toward those parts of the body which are weight prone was significantly related to bulimic tendencies. (3) There was a strong relationship between negative self-esteem and bulimic tendencies. (4) Of the dimensions which measured Social Interaction Style: Public Self-Consciousness, Fear of Negative Evaluation, and Social Anxiety, it was especially Public Self-Consciousness which affected bulimic tendencies. (5) Media influence significantly contributed to the development of bulimic tendencies. Since early adolescence is the time when these attitudes toward the self and the body are formed, schools have a responsibility to help young females toward a realistic acceptance of their bodies, and to teach them healthy ways of nurturing the body and the self. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Recommended Citation

CHRISTA RUTH COX, "RISK FACTORS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BULIMIA" (January 1, 1987). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8727290.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8727290

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