Term of Award

Winter 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 1

C. Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 2

Shauna Joye

Abstract

Current research on eating disorders identifies a close correlation with perfectionism. However, little is understood about the complexities of this relationship, and some studies have demonstrated a stronger relationship between these variables when compared to others. This research sought to investigate the role of stress, in particular adverse life events, as a mediator in order to more robustly explain the relationship between eating disorder features and self-evaluative perfectionism, a higher order component of perfectionism consisting of concern over mistakes, need for approval, rumination, and perceived parental pressure. Three hundred and five college women volunteered to complete a series of self-report surveys online. Participants completed the Perfectionism Inventory, Inventory of College Students’ Recent Life Experiences, Eating Attitudes Test-26, Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire 6.0, and the Body Shape Questionnaire. Results suggest European Americans report higher levels of self-evaluative perfectionism as well as eating disorder symptoms as compared to their African American peers. Consistent with expectation, bivariate correlations revealed that eating disorder symptoms were positively related to self-evaluative perfectionism and adverse life events. Adverse life events mediated the relationship between self-evaluative perfectionism and eating disorder pathology. The clinical implications of these findings are explored in the context of cognitive-behavioral interventions.

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