Title page for ETD etd-06202011-085953

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Baillie, Lauren E.
URN etd-06202011-085953
Title The Relationship Between Ethnic Identity, Disordered Eating And Body Image Among Chinese And Caucasian Students
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Copeland, Amy L. Committee Chair
Cohen, Alex Committee Member
Gouvier, William Drew Committee Member
Rizzuto, Tracey Committee Member
LiCata, Vincent Dean's Representative
  • eating disorders
  • body image
  • cultural influences
Date of Defense 2011-06-14
Availability unrestricted
It is generally believed that Western culture’s emphasis on thinness is responsible for the presence of eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction. However, Asians living in Western societies who are more acculturated to Western values have shown fewer body image and eating problems than their less acculturated Asian peers, while those who are highly acculturated to their native culture may be

at increased risk for eating disorder symptoms. In this study, Chinese and Caucasian students

attending United States universities completed measures of body image, body esteem, disordered

eating and ethnic identity in the language of their choice (English or Simplified Chinese). As

expected, females demonstrated higher levels of disordered eating and body dissatisfaction than

males, regardless of ethnicity. There were no between-ethnicity differences in disordered eating and body image dissatisfaction, though Caucasians demonstrated higher ratings of their own attractiveness than Chinese language responders. For the Chinese participants, experiencing an unstable sense of identity was associated with increased disordered eating and body dissatisfaction for men and women, respectively. Looking at the Chinese language participants specifically, ethnic identity search behaviors alone were associated with increased risk for the eating-related outcome

variables. Results pertaining to the Chinese participants who responded in English yielded a

surprising pattern. They were not different from Caucasians or their Chinese-responding counterparts for any of the body image and eating disorder measures, and there was no relationship between ethnic identity and either body dissatisfaction or disordered eating. These findings highlight the importance of allowing participants a language choice for methodological reasons, as well as to identify potential differences between language-based subsets of responders.

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