The media’s influence towards AN has supporting evidence from Becker. Fijan adolescent girls and their eating attitudes and behaviours were examined prior to the introduction of TV. Attitudes were seen to shift with a greater desire for them to lose weight and become more like these westernised TV characters. This shows how the media may contribute to the onset of AN indirectly, as viewers strive to change their body types. However personality factors could be a confounding variable, as other explanations suggested those with low self-esteem or OCD are more susceptible to influence. The study may also lack internal validity as we cannot say for certain that a change in attitude towards image can lead directly to AN.
A person’s ethnic group also appears to mitigate incidences of AN. Other cultural groups with different values that place lower emphasis on the need to be thin have lower rates of AN.
However, Cachelin and Regan found no significant prevalence of disordered eating between Afro-American and white participants. This shows that a person’s ethnicity may play no role in whether they are more likely to develop AN, but in fact the people of western cultures may have other influences that are predominantly stronger in their lives such as the media.
Peer influences are also believed to play a role towards AN in some cases. Adolescents may be more susceptible to peer influences such as disordered eating patterns within their group. Eisenberg found that unhealthy dieting was apparent within peer groups, suggesting this could contribute to the development of AN. Bruchs’ psychodynamic explanation suggests an AN has its origin within early childhood, when parents respond incorrectly to their child’s hunger, causing them to grow up confused and reliant, meaning they don’t feel control of their own bodies in adolescence. The developing of abnormal patterns may be a way for them to exercise control.
Explanations that focus solely on culture, media or even psychodynamic explanations can also be argued to be reductionist and oversimplified, as a more complex process beyond simply a single explanation appears to be occurring. A combination of processes may be interacting, such as media personality and culture, all combining for individuals to develop AN. This is supported by the fact that not everyone who diets, lives in certain cultures, or follows celebrity lifestyles develops AN, showing that the approach is deterministic and it ignores the role of our free will in choosing to not develop this disorder.
Such psychological explanations focus on the nurture side of the argument, suggesting it is out environmental factors causing AN. However the biological approach suggests that it may be neural or genetic causes, suggesting nature may be the cause. A diathesis stress model may better explain how both play a role, with some individuals having the genetic predisposition, along with sufficient environmental triggers, causing the onset of AN. Therefore showing how nature and nurture interact
Personality traits are thought to play an important role in the development and maintenance of AN. Perfectionism is a trait that is often found in those with AN, along with impulsiveness. Although this is often linked with bulimia, Research has shown those with AN often act more impulsively than they self-report.
Halmi supports the importance of perfectionism as a risk factor for AN as they found that the extent of perfectionism was directly related to the severity of AN experienced by the women. Showing that there is a positive correlation that those with more perfectionist personalities are more prone to developing AN.