Date of Award

1993

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Donald A. Williamson

Abstract

Although there has been a wealth of recent research on the construct of body image disturbance, it is still a highly controversial and poorly understood phenomenon. Much of previous research has treated body image disturbance as if it were a unidimensional construct. Recently, a multidimensional model was proposed which incorporated the concepts of body size distortion, preference for thinness, body dissatisfaction, and fear of fatness. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine this multidimensional model in an attempt to establish its validity and resolve many of the current controversies regarding body image disturbance. The LISREL 7 program was used to perform a structural modeling analysis of the theoretical model. The multidimensional model was tested against alternate one, two, and three dimensional models. Several specific hypothesized effects regarding the relationships between the underlying dimensions were also tested. A total of 175 women participated in the study, 54 eating disorder patients and 121 undergraduate students. The results supported the hypothesized four dimensional model, relative to alternative models. Body dissatisfaction appeared to be directly affected by both body size distortion and preference for thinness, in addition to actual body size. Fear of fatness was found to be the best predictor of restrictive eating. The results supported a significant relationship between fear of fatness and body size distortion, although the exact nature of the relationship could not be conclusively determined, probably due to reciprocal causation. The results appeared consistent across the clinical and non-clinical samples. These data help resolve many of the current controversies in the body image literature and illustrate the need to study the construct in a multidimensional context. The results also suggested the need to develop more sound assessment instruments for fear of fatness.

Pages

107

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