Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Phares, Vicky

Keywords

psychopathology, internalization, sociocultural, body image, eating disorder

Abstract

Although the research on expectancy theory and body image and eating disturbance is very limited, it appears to be an extremely useful and promising line of study. It appears likely that the application of expectancy theory would lend itself well to the area of body image disturbance and eating disorders. Within the field of body image disturbance and eating disorders research, expectancies would most likely refer to the anticipated consequences of being thin. Such expectancies may be established by an individual's direct experience with weight loss and dieting or through the observation of the messages concerning the societal "thin ideal" projected by the media, parents, and peers. The current study attempted to develop and validate a measure of women's expectancies, or anticipated consequences of being thin.

The Thinness Expectancy Questionnaire (TEQ) was developed in a series of three studies: Item Generation, Item Analysis, and Validity and Reliability Analysis. First, a pilot study was conducted in order to generate a broad range of items regarding expectancies about being thin. Second, the initial measure was administered to 355 undergraduate females. A factor analysis and item analysis produced a final version of the TEQ. Last, reliability and validity analyses were conducted. Overall, results indicate that positive thinness expectancies are related to body image and eating problems whereas negative expectancies appear to have a limited connection with or are unrelated to body image/eating disorders. Although hypothesized models indicated poor to mediocre fits of the data, they represent an initial attempt at examining the role of thinness expectancies in the development of body image concerns and eating disturbance.

The results indicate that positive expectancies of thinness are related to women's body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance. In other words, women's positive expectations and assumptions about being thin may put them at risk for developing difficulties with body image and eating concerns. As a result, preventative interventions that incorporate techniques that challenge or modify these cognitions would seem to be most effective.

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