Perfectionism and cultural influences in the development of eating disorder symptoms

Eating disorders affect an estimated three per cent of women, placing them at risk for physiological problems, social and emotional difficulties and disruption to their working lives. Research has shown that the causes of eating disorders are complex, but studies have identified certain psychological and social risk factors, including personality traits such as perfectionism. Brandy McGee is investigating how perfectionism combines with cultural influences to cause eating disorders. She is examining the idea that when perfectionists compare themselves to physical ideals suggested in cultural images such as advertisements, they feel they have failed in the area of appearance, which contributes to eating disorders. The study involves assessing levels of perfectionism, eating attitudes and eating behaviour of participants. The research will help in the development of preventative health care programs and improve understanding of the psychosocial and cultural issues affecting health.