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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adult attachment style, social support, and eating behaviors in university women Maltby, Georgina Elizabeth

Abstract

This investigation explored the relationship between the interpersonal factors adult attachment style and quality of emotional and practical social support, and eating behaviours in a sample of 201 female undergraduates. Participants completed the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q; Fairburn & Beglin, 1994), the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991), the Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994), and the Significant Others Scale (SOS; Power, Champion, & Aris, 1988). Moderate positive correlations were demonstrated between disordered eating, insecure adult attachment style, and dissatisfaction with emotional support. Simultaneous multiple regression analyses were computed to explore the influence of the predictor variables (adult attachment style and quality of social support) and the criterion variable (the severity of disordered eating). The results revealed that fearful adult attachment style predicted the severity of disordered eating. Two sets of multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) were used to examine mean differences in insecure attachment and quality of social support between the eating category groups of non disordered (n = 28), and disordered eaters (n = 29). Classification of the two eating groups was based on the DSM-IV criteria for an eating disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 1994 ), and the eating disorder continuum model (Scarano & Kalodner-Martin, 1994). Significant mean differences between the two eating groups were observed in adult attachment style but not in quality of social support. The results support the relevance of interpersonal factors to the experience of disordered eating in university women.

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