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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Anorexia nervosa and social network Buch, Wes


Aspects of the social networks of anorexic (N=34) and non-anorexic (N=35) women were examined according to hypotheses derived from social network theory and research and from the literature pertaining to anorexia nervosa. The nature of the social network was discussed from the perspective of Pattison's (1977a) psychodynamic psychosocial systems theory. Subjects were compared on selected social network variables using the Pattison Psychosocial Inventory (PPI). The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) and the Family Environment Scale (FES) were used to investigate the contribution of certain personality and environmental variables to social network variation. Statistical analyses of the difference between means were tested using the Hotelling's T² procedure followed by univariate t-tests. Analyses of proportions were performed using z-tests. The Bonferroni inequality was employed in order to reduce the probability of Type I error when determining the statistical significance of the univariate t-tests and z-tests. The null hypothesis was accepted for the majority of the results. Only one social network variable, total network size, significantly differentiated anorexic and control subjects, although several other variables were approaching statistical significance. Various contrasting explanations of the results were discussed. For example, it is possible that anorexia nervosa is not a homogeneous or singular nosological entity and does not inevitably result in predictable and largely invariant social impairment. It was proposed that recent typologies of anorexia nervosa may yield significant between-group variation in social network variables. Furthermore, social networks may vary with the degree of severity and/or chronicity of the anorexic condition. The correlational analyses produced several statistically significant results. Regarding environmental (FES) variables, both cohesion and independence were positively correlated with support from family network members. Contrary to hypotheses, however, interpersonal effectiveness (CPI) achieved only weak and non-significant correlations with social network size and support.

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