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Eat Disord. 2008 Jul-Sep;16(4):331-41. doi: 10.1080/10640260802115993.

The specificity of social rank in eating disorder versus depressive symptoms.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, UK.


It has been proposed that an evolutionary approach to understanding rank and social status may contribute to our understanding of eating disorder symptoms. The present study sought to explore the degree to which rank might be related to eating pathology independently of its known association with depression. A non-clinical sample of 74 women completed rank-relevant measures of social defeat, entrapment, submissive behavior and social comparison as well as measures of depressive and eating disorder symptoms. Independently of depressive symptoms, submissive behavior and an unfavorable social comparison predicted eating pathology while social defeat and internal entrapment predicted depressive symptoms. There appears to be a specific role for social rank in relation to eating pathology. However, further research is required to determine precisely what this role is and the degree to which it relates to risk or recovery.

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