Masters Thesis

Relationship between bulimic symptoms and the discrepency [sic] between actual and ideal sex role identity

The literature suggests many different points of views concerning eating disorders and sex role identity, ranging from Boskind-White's (1983) "hyperfeminine" theory, to Lewis & Johnson's (1985) "undifferentiated" hypothesis, to Rost's (1982) hypothesized gap between ideal vs. actual sex role identity. The present study compared the difference between actual and ideal sex-role identity and how this difference may relate to bulimic behavior. Ninety-seven women from psychology classes were recruited to participate, 45 from Introduction to Psychology, 37 from Psychology of Women, and 15 from Eating Disroders. It was hypothesized that women with a higher risk of bulimia would show a greater discrepancy between actual and ideal sex role identity than women with low risk of bulimia. Risk of bulimia was measured by the Bulimia Test (BULIT)( Smith & Thelen, 1984). Sex role behavior and ideals were measured by the Personality Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ) (Spence & Helmreich, 1978). This hypothesis was not supported. No correlation was found between the discrepency between their ideal and actual sex-role attributes and their BULIT score. However, a significant inverse correlation between Introduction to Psychology Classes' PAQ Masculinity score and the BULIT score was found. It was concluded that there are no certain sex-role traits correlated with bulimia.