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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mapping the care domain : conceptualization, assessment, and relation to eating disorders Hennig, Karl H.


The purpose of this dissertation was to undertake a conceptualization and empirical "mapping" of the ethic-of-care domain - often characterized as self-referential and lacking in rigor. The current focus is upon conventional forms of care, involving notions of moral "goodness" as self-silencing and -sacrificial. Employing a "super" circumplex as a prescriptive and descriptive tool, projected item analyses were undertaken as a theoretico-structural clarification of existing scale items, along with a provisional pool of additional items generated as part of Study 1. Based in part on proposed circular criteria, the Conventional Care Scales (CCS) were developed and submitted to a conjoint principal components analysis along with the battery of other care/dependency scale items. An examination of item circular distributions, factor loadings, alpha-contribution plots, and thematic content revealed several factors expressive of two "faces" of conventional care, submissive and ingenuous. These two forms were shown to have unique correlates with measures of adjustment, interpersonal competencies, other factors of the Five-Factor Model, false-self beliefs, and reported distress in narrated accounts of rejected care giving. Gender differences in the association between indices of adjustment and conventional care were also found. The range of conventional care was also extended through the development of scales reflecting other-directed and socially prescribed dimensions of conventional care. The factor structure for the CSS was also replicated in a second sample (Study 2). Participants for Studies 1 and 2 were composed of undergraduate students (N = 302 in both samples) who completed a battery of questionnaires in the first study and the CCS alone in the second study. Anticipating future clinical directions, secondary analyses using structural equation modelling were conducted on an existing data set (N = 92) which included measures of conventional care and perfectionism, along with indices of psychological adjustment and eating disordered attitudes. Results indicated that conventional care, for which there is little research, was more predictive of adjustment and eating disordered attitudes than perfectionism, for which there exists a large clinical literature. This research contributes to an understanding of ways in which an ethic of care can "go awry," as well as proposes a research platform upon which the clinical implications of morality and self-ideals can be investigated. These findings speak to both the constraints and prescriptions that can inform a philosophical ethic of care.

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