Psychological Explanations For Anorexia

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  • Created on: 21-06-12 20:30
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Psychological Explanations For Anorexia ­ Andrew F
AO1's AO2's
1 Eating disorders have been identified 1 This is supported by evidence which
across all cultures and therefore there suggests that there is a fault with the
does seem to be some evidence of an neurotransmitter serotonin. However, there
underpinning biological explanation for the are also objective psychological
disorder. explanations to account for the disorder.
2 There is evidence that anorexia is far
greater in modern western societies and
that it has increased massively in the last
50 years, suggesting there are social and
psychological factors which are important
in the development of this abnormality.
3 The behavioural explanation states that
classical conditioning plays a part in the
development of anorexia. Individuals learn
an association between thinness and
admiration, resulting in an abnormal desire
to control eating behaviour.
4 Admiration may also be a positive
reinforcer in operant conditioning. The
individual gains attention and praise from
peers for dieting to control body weight
and the subsequent weight loss. They then
strive to gain this reward.
5 The most influential behavioural 2 This is supported by a meta analysis by
explanation for anorexia is social learning Grabe and Hyde, who found that there was a
theory. Recently, the media has idealised higher incidence of anorexia in white
thinness for women. Girls observe this Americans than black Americans. They
positive reinforcement and instigate their suggested that this was because the two
own dietary control. If they receive positive cultures valued different body shapes and
reinforcement, the behaviour will be therefore the children would observe
regulated. This explains why anorexia different things in SLT.
appears more common in western
3 However this analysis is gender biased
because it only included studies done on
females. This is not applicable to men.
4 Also, metaanalyses are only as reliable as
the most reliable study. When including
many studies, the reliability has to be
6 Further evidence for the role of SLT in the 5 However, this study is limited because as it
development of anorexia was found in a cannot provide a causal link between the
study on the introduction of television to factors as other variables were not
Fiji. Native girls were interviews about their controlled.
eating habits and body perception before
and after the introduction. After two years,
incidence of abnormal eating doubled,
suggesting western body ideals were
socially learned through television.
6 Also, the sample size is small, meaning

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Psychological Explanations For Anorexia ­ Andrew F
individual differences may bias the results.
7 Also, the method used was interviews, which
are subject to social desirability, limiting the
8 Also, the study lacks cultural validity because
it only included Fijians and therefore cannot
be applied universally.
9 Any behavioural approach is built upon
simple stimulus > response pathways and
must therefore be reductionist as it does not
include the influence of thinking.…read more



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Andrew F.

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