Outline and evaluate one psychological explanation and one biological explanation of one eating disorder. (8 marks + 16 marks)

This is for anorexia

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Outline and evaluate one psychological explanation and one biological explanation
of one eating disorder. (8 marks + 16 marks)
Anorexia is an eating disorder of abnormal weight loss dropping below 85% of what was previously
considered normal. This is characterised by low blood pressure, amenorrhoea and depression, as
well as other bodily changes. Anorexia is caused by strict controls on weight and unusual eating
habits which can be explained through both psychological and biological explanations.
The psychological explanation of anorexia is explained through cultural ideas in the media which
portrays thin models on TV and magazines. This is a significant contributory factor in body image
concerns and the drive for thinness among Western adolescent girls.
Research by Jones and Buckingham found that people with low self-esteem are more likely to
compare themselves to idealised imagines portrayed in the media.
There is a wealth of evidence to support the view that the mass media portrays slender as a beauty
ideal which people strive to follow.
For instance, Goresz et al (2001) reviewed 25 studies and showed that this ideal causes bodily
dissatisfaction and contributes to the development of eating disorders, particularly affecting girls
aged 19 and below.
Furthermore, there also comes support from a natural observation carried out by Becker et al (2002)
in a study of Fijian adolescents. It was found that after the introduction of television to an island,
these girls stated a desire to lose weight and be like the Western women on the television.
This study can be praised for being extremely high in ecological validity and displaying possibly no
extraneous variables, therefore acting as strong evidence to support the psychological explanation
of anorexia through cultural ideas in the media.
On the other hand, Burch also proposed the psychodynamic explanation to explain anorexia by
distinguishing between effecting effective parenting who attend to their child's need and ineffective
parents who don't.
Children of ineffective parents grow up confused about internal needs and become overly reliant on
parents. During adulthood, these children strive for independence, but are unable to achieve this
without taking excessive control over their body shape and developing abnormal eating habits.
Steiner supports this claim as he found that parents of adolescents with anorexia had a tendency to
define their children' needs rather than letting them define their own needs.
Furthermore Button and Warren examined a group of anorexia sufferers for 7 years after they were
diagnosed with anorexia. These individuals relied excessively on the opinions of other and felt a lack
of control over their own lives which aligns itself with Burch's theory.
However, the psychodynamic explanation is unfalsifable because although research has been carried
out into it, there's no way of accurately telling whether the anorexia sufferers exhibit certain
characteristics because of their condition or their parents; as a result it's difficult to establish cause &
effect between the explanation and the eating disorder, making it unfalsifiable.
Overall, there are real world applications gained from the psychological explanation of anorexia
because in France the fashion industry has acknowledged the damaging influence of the media of on
body image by publicising pictures of anorexia and promoting a healthy body image among young

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This serves as a psychological deterrent from undereating to become anorexic, but rather become
healthy in order to address the rising population of young teenage anorexic girls who die because of
their disorder and prevent it.
Alternatively, a neural explanation of anorexia exists to define a biological cause.
For example, increased dopamine activity in the basal ganglia alters the way that people interpret
rewards, so individuals with anorexia find it difficult to associate good feelings that are usually
pleasurable (e.g. food).…read more


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