This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Predictive Model of Disordered Eating: The Role of Negative Appearance-Based Commentary in Familial and Romantic Relationships




Carriere, Lucille

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology


A multitude of interpersonal factors have previously been identified within the literature as contributing to the development of disordered eating. However, current literature suggests negative interaction patterns and abuse within familial and romantic relationships play a significant yet non-specific role in this process. Negative experiences specific to food and appearance have emerged as strong mediators between disturbed interpersonal relationships and eating pathology. The purpose of the present study was to extend previous research by testing a predictive model in which the effects of appearance-based commentary within family and romantic relationships would be examined in the development of disordered eating. Using path analyses and multiple regression techniques, family variables (dysfunction and abuse) were positively correlated with disordered eating. Negative maternal commentary was found to fully mediate the relationship between family abuse and disordered eating. Family abuse was also positively correlated with partner abuse. Although partner abuse was positively correlated with disordered eating, negative partner commentary did not mediate the relationship between partner abuse and disordered eating. Findings from the modeling in which all family and romantic relationship variables were included indicated that individuals receiving negative appearance-based commentary from their mothers were more likely to be involved in romantic relationships in which they experience similar negative comments regarding appearance. Also, negative appearance-based comments from partners did not add to the model’s predictive power of disordered eating once accounting for the relationship of family-of-origin effects on disordered eating. Implications for this research are discussed as they relate to the assessment and treatment of disordered eating in young women.