Examining the relationship between orthorexia nervosa and personality traits

As civilization has evolved, so have the patterns of dietary consumption. Many of these patterns are pathological in nature, and as such, threaten man’s very existence. One such form of eating pathology is that of Orthorexia Nervosa (ON), an unhealthy obsession with healthful eating. The present study is designed to examine how various eating habits have evolved, and relationships between Orthorexia Nervosa and the personality traits of Neuroticism (N) and Conscientiousness (C), along with exploratory analysis of Openness to Experience (O), Extraversion (E), and Agreeableness (A). A sample of 441 participants were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk and California State University, Stanislaus SONA system, and were administered the ORTO-15 eating behavior scale and the NEO-FFI-3 personality scale. Results indicated that 198 (49.7%) of the participants presented with orthorexic symptomology. It was also determined that there is a strong negative correlation between ON and N (r = -.25), a marginal negative correlation between ON and O (r = -.09), but no correlation between ON and C (r = -.02), E (r = .09), and A (r = .03). Multiple regression analysis indicated that N is a significant predictor of ON symptomology, along with age. Caution should be used when generalizing these results, as the ORTO-15 measure may be compromised due to over-translation from European languages to American, as well as questionable construct validity. Further investigation is advised with intent to re-evaluate the ORTO-15, as new questions should be considered, and more studies are needed using American samples.