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J Genet Psychol. 2005 Sep;166(3):346-59.

Sociotropy and perceptions of interpersonal relationships as predictors of eating disturbances among college women: two prospective studies.

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School of Psychology, James Cook University, Australia.


The authors examined the relationship between sociotropy and perceptions of interpersonal relationships and subsequent eating disorder symptoms among young women. In Study 1, 118 women from a liberal arts college in northern Wisconsin completed self-report measures of sociotropy, perceived close social support, and eating disorder symptoms. The women returned 6 weeks later to complete the same measures. After controlling for initial levels of reported eating disturbances, higher levels of Time 1 sociotropy and reductions in perceived social support at Times 1 and 2 made unique contributions to eating disturbances at Time 2, although the interaction of Time 1 sociotropy and Time 2 social support did not add to the model. In Study 2, 138 women completed measures of eating disturbances, sociotropy, and interpersonal hassles on two occasions, 10 weeks apart. Self-reported eating pathology at Time 1 accounted for most of the variance in Time 2 eating disorder symptoms, but increased eating disturbances also were predicted by measures of interpersonal hassles. A final regression analysis using combined samples indicated that both T1 and T2 measures of interpersonal functioning made unique contributions to changes in reported eating disturbances. In sum, the findings suggested that perceptions of reduced support in close relationships and increased interpersonal hassles contribute to increases in reported eating disturbances among college-aged women, independent of baseline levels of eating disturbances and a highly sociotropic personality style.

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