Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Clinical.




Anorexia nervosa has been considered to be largely a postpubescent female phenomenon. Accordingly, research in this area has focused almost exclusively on this group of females. Two overlapping perspectives have been provided as possible explanations for the prevalence of anorexia nervosa in this age group of females. These are the pubertal viewpoint (advanced by Crisp) and the sociocultural viewpoint (advanced by Garner). It was hypothesized that the effects of puberty and sociocultural propaganda would not differentiate prepubescent males or females, but that with the onset of puberty females would score higher than males on a measure of body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness. It was also predicted that with puberty well underway, even greater differences would become evident between females and males. In order to assess this hypothesis, a nonclinical sample of six hundred and thirty two prepubescent, pubescent and postpubescent elementary and high school students (two hundred and six male and four hundred and twenty four female) aged 11 to 20 years old, from schools in southwestern Ontario were given Garner and Olmsted's (1984) Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI). An analysis of EDI subscale reliability (internal consistency) was performed and supported Garner's contention that the scale is appropriate for administration for children as young as 11 years of age. Results indicated that females scored higher than males at all age groups on Drive for Thinness and Body Dissatisfaction. It is concluded that even as young as 11 and 12 years of age, females are experiencing dissatisfaction with body shape and are driven toward thinness to a greater extent than are males. As was predicted, as females get older, they increased in dissatisfaction with their bodily shape, however, contrary to predictions, they did not increase in their drive for thinness as they got older. Consistent with predictions, males did not increase on Drive for Thinness with age. Prepubertal males however were more dissatisfied with their body shape than were older males. These findings are consistent with the pubertal and sociocultural positions with the qualification that the sociocultural propaganda thought to play a role in the development of anorexia nervosa begins at a younger age than was commonly thought.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1987 .S467. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 48-10, Section: B, page: 3122. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1987.