Discuss psychological explanations for anorexia nervosa

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One explanation for anorexia nervosa (AN) is the influence of cultural views of attraction. Within western society, beauty is equated to being slim, and this idea is believed to contribute heavily towards AN. The media then maintains this through the influence of TV, magazines, fashion and celeb lifestyle, all of which constantly reinforce this cultural ideal within the population. The constant portrayal of slim models leads people to question their own body types, causing them to strive to be thin.

Hoek found evidence to suggest AN may not actually be caused du to culture, undermining this explanation. They found that in the Caribbean it was acceptable to be overweight and results found 6 cases of AN, which actually falls within the range of rated reported within westernised cultures, suggesting that cultural influences may not explain this. However a methodological issue with this study is that there was a small sample size of 44,000 people on one Caribbean island and therefore can be argued to be culturally biased as results may only apply to this group of Caribbean people. Also this study lacks external validity due to this factor as the measurement of people and the findings may not apply to the wider population and so we cannot draw firm conclusions on whether culture affects AN.

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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 ...

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