Evaluating the effects of eating disorder memoirs on readers' eating attitudes and behaviors.
More than 50 individuals have published eating disorder (ED) memoirs. The current study was the first to test whether memoirs affect readers' eating attitudes and behaviors, and whether they normalize and/or glamorize EDs.
Fifty female undergraduates read an ED or control memoir. Before and afterward, participants completed the 26-item Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26), the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI) Drive for Thinness subscale, a measure of perceived ED symptom prevalence, and an Implicit Association Test (IAT) measuring associations between anorexia and glamour/danger.
Participants in the ED condition did not demonstrate significant changes in the EAT-26, the EDI Drive for Thinness subscale, perceived symptom prevalence, or IAT associations compared with controls. Before reading, the EAT-26 and EDI Drive for Thinness subscale correlated positively with perceived symptom prevalence and strength of the IAT association between anorexia and glamour.
ED memoirs appear to have little effect on undergraduates' eating attitudes and behaviors. Future research should investigate whether memoirs affect individuals with preexisting eating pathology, who may normalize and glamorize ED symptoms.
Thomas, JJ; Judge, AM; Brownell, KD; Vartanian, LR
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