Date of Award:

1990

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Gerald R. Adams

Co-Advisor/Chair:

William R. Dobson

Abstract

This study examined some of the procedures used in eating disorder research. Body size estimation procedures, in light of their similarity to procedures in social psychology, were used to create self-focus and selfconsciousness conditions. If the procedures in the present study create self-consciousness effects, it is possible that the results of those studies have been affected by a heightened state of self-awareness. The present research also explored the relationships between self-consciousness, self-esteem, body esteem, body perception, and eating disorder proneness. The research was conducted with a nonclinical sample from a university population, controlling for age and body development factors. Baseline and experimental measures of objective self-awareness and body size perception were taken. The experimental conditions consisted of the presence of a) a VCR and mirror and b) an observer who was rating the subject. The third condition was a control setting that replicated the baseline setting. The sample was also tested at the posttest for self-esteem, body esteem, and eating disorder proneness. The results indicate that the subjects reported no significant changes in self-consciousness or body size estimates, suggesting that something besides the presence of equipment influences whether or not one feels selfconscious. This idea has been borne out in other research that implicates self-esteem as a major consideration in whether or not an individual feels self-conscious in certain situations (that is, that low self-esteem appears to increase one's amenability to induce self-consciousness). Another primary factor is that self-consciousness cannot be induced when the individual is interested in the task. Subjects in the present study indicated that they found the tasks inherently interesting and forgot about the presence of equipment and observers once they began thinking about the questions posed to them. In the present research, selfesteem and body esteem were both found to be negatively related to self-consciousness, while eating disorder proneness was found to be positively related to selfconsciousness. The results are discussed in light of these connections, and suggestions for future research are provided.

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