AQA psya3: Eating behaviour

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  • AQA psya3: Eating behaviour
    • Dieting
      • Explanations for the failure of it
        • Preloading, which suggests a minor failiure in dieting and breaking an imposed artificially low boundary will lead to disinhibition  and abandonment of the diet as dieters believe dieting has to be all or nothing.
          • In a laboratory experiment, dieters who were given a high calorie snack then went on to eat more from a table of food than non-dieters who were given the same snack.
            • Artificial study- not a generalizable explanation for failure of dieting in the wider population (lacks ecological validity).
        • Ironic processes of mental control- dieters think about food more than non-dieters which triggers eating.
        • Cognitive shifts- dieters lose motivation and decide to stop  as it isn't worth it or is too difficult.
          • Keys found 36 people who were given half their daily food intake for 12 weeks and lost 25% of their normal body weight had cognitive changes that made them obsessed with food, leading to binges.
        • Mack and Herman's theory suggests attempts at dieting increase eating.
          • Criticised of having gender bias- evidence based on women who in studies are unlikely to eat as much as they would normally as it isn't socially desirable.
    • An Example of an eating disorder
      • Clinical characteristics: Body weight less than 85% of BMI, body image distortion, missing 3 menstrual cycles (amenorrhea), deny problem, scared of gaining weight.
      • Psychological explanation: psycho-dynamic approach
        • Bruche suggests anorexia is caused by young girls fearing developing an adult body and becoming pregnant. Stopping eating becomes associated with repressing sexual impulses and not getting pregnant, eg it causes amenorrhea (missing 3 menstrual cycles).
          • Idea undermined by the contemporary culture we live in; society's approach to sex has become more liberal, eg there has been a programme about sex lives called 'sex box' so the psycho-dynamic appro-ach could be considered outdated.
        • Bruche also suggests anorexics refuse to eat to strive for independence; family use food for love and control, so anorexics believe they can be independent of their family if they reject food.
          • Another suggestion in the psycho-dynamic approach undermines this idea; in the family systems theory Muchin suggests anorexics stop eating so they can stay dependent because their enmeshed families don't want to lose their family structure and reward their child for not eating by providing comforts.
        • Can be accused of having gender bias; 10% of anorexics are male and it only explains anorexia in females, because ideas about preventing pregnancy can't be applies to male anorexics.
        • Has led to practical applications to make anorexics better and function adequately, eg the idea enmeshed families can lead to anorexia have led to family therapies that reduce patient's need to be dependent on their families, which have been effective in the long term; anorexics need to understand their illness to get better.
      • Anorexia
      • Biological explanation: neural explanation
        • Suggests anorexia is caused by a problem with the brain's hunger satiety mechanisms- don't recognise they are unsatisfied and hungry. This may be the result of an imbalance of neuro- transmitters. For example, Bailer found higher serotonin levels in recovering anorexics and Kaye found evidence for overactive dopamine levels in recovering anorexics.
        • Also suggests anorexia is caused by genetic factors, which suggests that anorexa is passedon through inheritance and induvidualsare mre likely to be anorexic if they have an anorexic relative.
      • Psychological explanation: Behavioural Approach
        • Suggests anorexia is a learned response caused by social expectations of female body shape, leading to food phobia.
        • Suggests in classical conditioning people are bullied for being fat, the anxiety becomes associated with food and eating, so eating causes anxiety and becomes a food phobia.
          • Operant conditioning suggests avoiding food reduces anxiety which reinforces the behaviour through negative reinforcement. There's also positive reinforcement where getting thinner in girls is reinforced with attention and compliments whilst putting on weight is punished with criticism. Joan and Crawford found over weight girls and under weight boys were most likely to be teased.
            • Social Learning Theory suggests that the Western media promotes an unrealistic body shape for females to aspire to. Forhand found 27% of girls in the west reported feeling media pressure towards a perfect body. Gregory found 16% of 15 year old girls were on a diet, and you are more likely to diet if your mother diets obsessively.
            • Hoek et al found only 6 cases on anorexia when researching the hospital records of over 44 thousand people in a non-westernised carribbean island which accepted being fat.
              • Becker found Fijian girls wanted to be thin to be more like western television characters after the introduction of television.
                • Has real-world applications- France have signed a charter of good will to reduce the bad effects of the media on body shape.
      • Affects 1% of young females, and 26% of sufferers suffer chronically (long-term). It hospitalises 460 girls in the UK every year, and is a 90% female disorder mostly in Middle Class high achievers in Western culture. 25% of anorexics have OCD and 50% have depression.
      • Biological explanation: Evolutionary Explanation
        • 'Reproduction suppression hypothesis'- anorexia allows young women to delay reproduction in famine and stopping eating initially tricks the body into thinking there is a famine.
          • 'Pseudo-nubile hypothesis'- thinness is an honest signal for youth so women who are competing for mates with younger women in modern society make themselves thin.
            • Anorexia makes girls temporarily infertile and causes amenorrhea, and many animals stop reproducing in difficult times.
              • Evidence against- anorexia leads to death so cannot be an evolutionary advantage.
                • Ignores the Behavioural Approach

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