Competition for Mates or for Status?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2005 Volume 16, Number 6
©2005 Gürze Books

In a recent study at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Dr. L. M. Faer and colleagues sought to answer the following question: Do eating disorders among women arise because of competition for mates or status? (Psychol Psychother 2005: 78:397).

The researchers predicted that female intrasexual competition (ISC) for mates would be the strongest predictor of bulimia; in contrast, female ISC for status would be the strongest predictor of anorexia nervosa. A group of 202 undergraduate women participated in the study. The women completed numerous measures, including the General Competitiveness Scale and the Eating Disorders Inventory.

The results demonstrated that ISC for mates was ultimately the driving factor that contributed to female competition for status, general competitiveness, perfectionism, body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and both anorexia and bulimia. Contrary to the authors’ initial expectations, the results supported a mostly spurious causal relationship between female competition for status and anorexia, with the only indirect causal effect being the influence of perfectionism, which was uniquely linked to anorexia and not to bulimia.

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