Dietary restraint and sexuality : orientation, self-perception, and gender role attitudes

The goal of the present study wa'i to uncover interrelationships among sexual orientation, sex, attitudes toward women's roles in society, and level of dietary restraint. It was hypothesized that sexual orientation, attitudes toward traditional gender roles, and sexual self-esteem would be at least as highly associated with restraint as gender. Other expected relationships predicted that participants who seek male sexual acceptance (homosexual men and heterosexual women) would report higher restraint and lower sexual self -esteem than their counterparts and, in addition, high restraint levels were expected to relate to women who had been raised or lived inside the U.S. as opposed to women from other countries. A questionnaire was administered to volunteers at CSU, Northridge which contained the Restraint Scale, Attitudes Towards Women Scale, the Sexual Self-Esteem Scale, questions pertaining to sexual orientation, as well as demographic items. The useable sample consisted of 183 cases (60 men and 122 women; 13 homosexual and 170 heterosexual respondents). Results were found to be unreliable due to a lack of power; however the arithmetic means of the hypotheses involving restraint and the respondents seeking male acceptance and their estimation of their sexual self-esteem were in the predicted directions. Supplementary analyses revealed that, in addition to the small representation of homosexual participants, the sample also lacked respondents who were restrained eaters. A more powerful sample would be expected from a more directed purposive sampling procedure. Finally, principal components analyses with oblique rotation were performed on the Restraint Scale and Sexual Self-Esteem Scale respectively. The factor structure of the Restraint Scale supported the pre-established structure (two factors: concern for dieting and weight fluctuation) and the structure of the latter scale revealed only one component. It was recommended that the items pertaining to the factor, weight fluctuation, be re-constructed to reflect purer measures of dieting and binging behaviors separately since fluctuations of weight are generally the result of a combination of dieting and overeating.