Term of Award

Winter 2016

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 1

C. Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 2

Shauna Joye


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.