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Title: Eating disorders : the role of factors beyond eating, weight and shape
Author: Ran , Romi
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Eating disorders (EDs) are associated with one of the highest rates of mortality amongst mental health disorders. Nonetheless, our knowledge of what causes them is limited. Typically, research has investigated the impact of eating, weight and shape. However, recent evidence suggests additional factors may be involved. Perfectionism, for example, has been shown to be associated with ED symptoms. Nonetheless, despite evidence that one in four individuals with an ED is male, research has primarily investigated female populations. Consequently, the first paper is a systematic review of the literature pertaining to perfectionism and ED symptoms in men. Consideration is given to the various definitions of perfectionism, the subgroups of males that have been investigated and the type of associations that have been found. Limitations of the existing literature are considered and areas for future research are highlighted. Research has further suggested that specific themes in core beliefs are associated with EDs. However, the exact nature of this relationship is currently unknown. The second paper therefore aims to determine whether there is a causal relationship between these core beliefs and ED symptoms. Specific ED core beliefs were activated in one group of healthy volunteers (experimental group) and positive self-beliefs were activated in another (control group). Results showed that the experimental group reported more negative mood after belief activation whilst the control group reported more positive mood. Participants also completed three ED-related behavioural tasks, to determine if this had any further impact on ED symptoms. Results showed a trend for participants in the experimental group to eat more chocolates than those in the control group after participating in these tasks. Various explanations for the results are considered. As the study was the first of its kind to explore a causal relationship between core beliefs and EDs, directions for future research are suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available