Year of Publication

2006

Document Type

Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gregory T. Smith

Abstract

Eating disorder expectancy theory proposes a causal role for expectancies for reinforcement from thinness. The authors conducted an experimental test of that hypothesis. Undergraduate college women (N = 154) were randomized to either a psychoeducational control of proven effectiveness or an experimental manipulation of thinness and restricting expectancies. Participants in each condition attended three experimental sessions and one, follow-up session, each one week apart. For both groups, body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, purging frequency, and binge eating frequency declined over the course of the study. In addition, the thinness expectancy manipulation produced greater declines in thinness expectancies, body dissatisfaction, and purging behavior than the psychoeducational manipulation. These results provide further support for the role of expectancies in the etiology of eating disordered behaviors.

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