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Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are becoming a major problem throughout the world'. Discuss to what extend psychological theories can explain the trend.

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Introduction

'Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are becoming a major problem throughout the world'. Discuss to what extend psychological theories can explain the trend. The statistical infrequency definition of abnormality defines abnormalities as being 2 standard deviation away from the norm. The norm in a sample is what the average is, the amount of individuals who do/do not suffer from an eating disorder and anyone 2 standard deviation away from this, is classed as being abnormal. In certain societies, eating disorders would be considered to be the norm as it is likely that the majority of the people within a sample suffer from an eating disorder. If one was to compare statistical infrequency graphs for eating disorders in 2004, to a graph many years ago it is likely that they will find a large increase in the number of individuals suffering from eating disorders, consequently meaning that today in some societies it is normal to suffer from an eating disorder, rather than it being abnormal and it is abnormal to not suffer from an eating disorder. ...read more.

Middle

The media influences the public through operant conditioning and Bandura's social learning theory. Operant conditioning is learning through the consequence of actions and learning a response through reward, punishment and reinforcement. Bandura said that when an individual watches (modelling) another person being reinforced and/or rewarded, the individual wants to repeat that behaviour themselves (imitate) so they get the same reaction (vicarious reinforcement). This can be applied to the media and eating disorders, as when someone watches TV and reads magazines, the pages are full of pretty and thin famous people. The individual then associates being pretty and skinny with being famous, rich and happy (classical conditioning) and therefore they want to be like the people in the magazines so they get the same rewards/reinforcements (operant conditioning). This is the dual process theory as it contains both classical and operant conditioning). This then results in the individual developing an eating disorder in their attempt to be as thin as the famous people. ...read more.

Conclusion

TV, films, magazines and newspapers play a big part in everyone's life in society today. We are constantly seeing pictures of famous people who are extremely thin. This gives an individual the distorted thought that being very thin is good. The individual then strives to be thin and their friends feel pressured to do the same through peer pressure. This model explains the increase of eating disorders and has been very influential in terms of treatment. However, a limitation of this approach is that the distorted thoughts could be related to the effect of the eating disorder, rather than the cause. The diathesis stress model explains eating disorders in terms of genetics (diathesis) and environmental triggers (stress). This means that you need a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger to develop an eating disorder, explaining why some people develop eating disorders, but not all. It is probably best to use this approach as it fits in with the social learning theory (stress), which then leads to the cognitive model, and it explains cultural relativism and statistical infrequency (genetics, some cultures have different genetics). ...read more.

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