Date of Graduation
College of Education and Human Services
Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology
Most research on disordered eating behaviors and body image concerns have focused on females, as females tend to have a higher prevalence of these behaviors than males; however, over the past decade there has been an increase in the number of males presenting with disordered eating behaviors. There has been a debate over whether eating disorders should be viewed as only diagnosable versus non-diagnosable or through a continuum model, with people being categorized as having a diagnosable eating disorder, disordered eating behaviors, or no eating disorder symptoms. Numerous recent studies have supported examining eating disorders from a continuum perspective. An association between perfectionism and disordered eating has been found by several researchers. A great deal of research has been completed on the link between perfectionism and disordered eating among females, however there has been a shortage examining this relationship among males. There has also been a debate over whether perfectionism is a unidimensional or multidimensional construct, with most recent research supporting the multidimensional view of perfectionism. There has also been research completed which suggests that athletes may be at a higher risk for developing disordered eating behaviors than non-athletes, although again most of this research has focused on females and used a discontinuum model of disordered eating and a unidimensional perspective of perfectionism. The present study examined the degrees of disordered eating and perfectionism among college students, comparing sex (males and females) and athletic status (athletes and non-athletes), using a continuum model of disordered eating and a multidimensional approach to perfectionism. This study surveyed 322 college-aged students, 101 female non-athletes, 100 male non-athletes, 53 male athletes, and 68 female athletes. Data analyses revealed that total and maladaptive perfectionism scores significantly varied across the three disordered eating categories, while adaptive perfectionism did not vary across the categories. Results also indicated a statistically significant difference between males' and females' frequencies in the categories of disordered eating (asymptomatic, symptomatic), although the differences between athletes and non-athletes and between male athletes, female athletes, male non-athletes, and female non-athletes were not statistically significant. Finally, data analyses revealed no statistically significant interactions on total, maladaptive, or adaptive perfectionism between or among sex, athletic status, and disordered eating categories; however there were significant main effects for disordered eating category on both total and maladaptive perfectionism. The results of this study lend evidence to the perspectives of perfectionism as a multidimensional construct and the continuum model of disordered eating with college students. Strengths and limitations of this study along with suggestions for future research and clinical applications are discussed.
Graham-Hinners, Melinda K., "Degrees of Disordered Eating and Perfectionism in College Students: A Comparison of Sex and Athletic Status" (2013). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3628.