Date of Award

1-1-2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Cashel,Mary Louise

Abstract

The current study examined the relations among internalization of sociocultural attitudes towards appearance, magical thinking, muscle dysmorphia, and eating disorder symptoms in models of obligatory exercise for males and females. The results indicated that several different developmental trajectories exist that vary from person to person. Several of the models proposed were supported or partially supported. The first model demonstrated mediation and moderation; at low levels of magical thinking, eating disorder attitudes and behaviors fully mediated the relation between internalization of societal standards of appearance and obligatory exercise. The second model was supported for the female sample, and indicated that obligatory exercise partially mediated the relation between internalization of societal standards of appearance and eating disorder attitudes and behaviors. The second model assessing eating disorder attitudes and behaviors for the male sample was not supported. A third model evaluated a mediational effect of muscle dysmorphia, but was not evident. However, when magical thinking was high, muscle dysmorphia significantly predicted obligatory exercise. The fourth model evaluated obligatory exercise as a mediator of the relation between internalization of societal standards of appearance and muscle dysmorphia, and partial mediation was demonstrated for the males. The fourth model was not supported for the females; instead, it appears that both internalization of societal standards of appearance and obligatory exercise contribute to muscle dysmorphia. Collectively, the results of this study support the use of a transdiagnostic perspective when designing intervention and treatment programs for individuals who may suffer from eating disorders, obligatory exercise and/or muscle dysmorphia.

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