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MODEL ANSWER FROM PSYCHOLOGY A2: THE COMPLETE
COMPANION BY MIKE CARDWELL AND CARA FLANAGAN.
Discuss two or more factors influencing attitudes to food and eating
behaviour (8 marks + 16 marks)
Research has found that ethnicity is an important cultural influence in body
dissatisfaction and related eating concerns. Powell and Kahn found these
attitudes were more characteristic of white women than black or Asian women.
Ball and Kennedy found that, regardless of ethnic background, the longer women
spent in Australia, the more similar to women born in Australia were their
attitudes to food and eating (the `enculturation/acculturation effect')
Social class is another important cultural influence in dieting and body
dissatisfaction. Dornbusch et al found that among American adolescents, higher
class females has a greater desire to be thin and more likely to achieve it than
lower class females. Goode et al also found that healthy attitudes to eating were
more likely to be found among higher income families.
Other research challenges ethnicity as a factor in these attitudes. Mumford et al
found that the incidence of bulimia nervosa was higher among Asian schoolgirls
than among white schoolgirls. Also, SriegelMoore et al found a greater drive to
be thin among black girls than among white girls of the same age, which
therefore challenges the claim that ethnicity is a key influence in the development
of disordered eating.
Research challenges the claim that social is important in developing attitudes to
food and eating. Story et al found that higher social class was actually
associated with greater rather than lower body dissatisfaction and lower rates of
behaviour designed to lose weight. Other studies have found no relationship
between the two, thus suggesting that social class is not a reliable indicator of
There is a generalisability problem with this research. Some research has
studied clinical populations (i.e people diagnosed with bulimia or some other
eating disorder), whereas other studies have relied on subclinical populations
(e.g people with disordered attitudes to food, or comforteaters). This there
makes it difficult to generalize from one group to the other to determine the
influence of different factors.
There is evidence of cultural bia. Rozin et al, found that different cultures had
different attitudes toward food. For example, Americans were more preoccupied
with health issues related to food, whereas the French associated food with
pleasure. This suggests that the measurement of attitudes to food and eating
behaviour in one culture tells us little about attitudes in other cultures.
A second factor influencing attitudes toward s food and eating behaviour is
mood. For example, individuals with bulimia nervousa tend to experience anxiety
prior to a bingeeating episode, despite the fact that bingeeating does not
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The same relationship between anxiety and
bingeeating is also found in nonclinical populations. Wegner et al found that
people who binged tended to have low mood before and after binge eating.
Another example of the influence of mood is that many people tend to
comforteat when in a low mood. Garg et al observed the food preferences of
participants as they watched either an upbeat movie or a sad movie.…read more