Term of Award
Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)
Document Type and Release Option
Thesis (open access)
Copyright Statement / License for Reuse
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Eating disorders are highly prevalent and cause significant psychological impairment, up to and including death (Arcelus, Mitchell, Wales, & Nielson, 2011). This research examined how trauma history in the general population explains variation in eating disorder risk. The purpose of the current study was to provide further evidence for the relationship between abuse history and eating disorder risk. Disordered eating behaviors, body dissatisfaction, and social anxiety are all known risk factors for the development of eating disorders (Brewerton, 2007). Trauma history is related to all three of these known risk factors (Brewerton, 2007) with sexual trauma being more linked to disordered eating (Wonderlich et al., 2001), social anxiety (Bruce, Heimberg, Goldin, & Gross, 2013), and body dissatisfaction (Didie, Tortolani, Pope, Menard, Fay, & Phillips, 2006) than other forms of trauma (Kent, Waller, & Dagnan, 1999). We hypothesized individuals with a history of trauma would report greater eating disorder risk compared to individuals with no trauma history. Further, we expected individuals with a history of at least one incident of sexual trauma would report greater eating disorder risk compared to those with no trauma or those with trauma history not including sexual trauma. As an exploratory hypothesis, we examined whether age of first trauma incident interacts with trauma history to account for the variance in reported eating disorder risk. Participants (N = 1,000) were recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to complete a surveying measuring their trauma histories and current symptoms of disordered eating, social anxiety, and body dissatisfaction. Participants were given the EAT 26, SIAS, BSQ 16B in random order. Then they were given the trauma Questionnaire and Demographic Questionnaire. Results show individuals with a history of trauma reported greater social anxiety and dissatisfaction than those without trauma history. Also, individuals who report sexual trauma reported greater eating disorder risk than those with no trauma or those with trauma history not including sexual trauma; age of first occurrence did not affect eating disorder risk. Future research should focus more on the differences of age of first occurrence. Research should focus on the differences in eating disorder risk between those who experienced physical trauma and those who experienced neglect. Also, researchers should look at other variables that could account for the variance in eating disorder risk such as perpetrator relationship and severity of abuse. Clinicians should take results into consideration when working with clients who report sexual trauma. They should look for symptoms of disordered eating, social anxiety, and body dissatisfaction.
Mitchell, Rebekah, "The Relationships Among Trauma History, Disordered Eating, Body Dissatisfaction, And Social Anxiety" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1716.
Research Data and Supplementary Material