Perfectionism and Social Rejection in the Development of Eating Disorder Symptoms

The causes of eating disorders are complex, yet a number of factors have emerged that may put individuals at increased risk for developing these disorders. These include social factors, such as social exclusion and personality traits, such as perfectionism. With support from a 2003 MSFHR Trainee Award, Brandy McGee studied how perfectionism combines with cultural influences, such as physical ideals suggested in advertisements, to cause eating disorders. Brandy is now exploring how multidimensional perfectionism interacts with experiences of social exclusion to produce eating disturbances. She is testing the hypothesis that social rejection will lead to an upswing in eating disturbances (such as binge eating, thoughts about food, negative mood, etc.) in individuals with high levels of social dimensions of perfectionism, but not in women with low levels of perfectionism. The outcomes of this study will help us better understand how social factors shape health status and enable us to better predict who is at risk for eating problems, and to intervene earlier to promote health.