Maladaptive perfectionism and disordered eating in college women: The mediating role of self-compassion

by Stuart, Jennifer, Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, 2009, 123 pages; 3386001


Disordered eating has been recognized as a concern on college campuses, particularly among college women. Maladaptive perfectionism has consistently been identified as a risk factor for disordered eating, and may present challenges to effective treatment and intervention. As a result, increased effort has gone into developing intervention strategies that reduce maladaptive aspects of perfectionism such as fear of evaluation, discrepancy between standards and performance, and harsh self-criticism. Self-compassion, a construct drawn from Buddhist psychology, has recently emerged as a healthy self-attitude that is negatively related to maladaptive perfectionism. Although self-compassion has been identified as a potential point of intervention in clinical settings, the relationship between self-compassion and disordered eating has not been examined.

This research uses two studies to investigate the role of self-compassion in explaining disordered eating in college women, as well as its potential integration into college counseling center outreach programming. Study 1 examined the relationships among maladaptive perfectionism, mindfulness, self-compassion, and disordered eating among 173 college students (105 women, 68 men). Study 2 employed a single group pretest posttest design to investigate the effects of a one hour outreach workshop on self-compassion in a sample of eight college women. Consistent with predictions, self-compassion fully mediated the relationship between mindfulness and disordered eating and partially mediated the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and disordered eating for college women. Furthermore, self-compassion scores increased significantly over the course of a one hour outreach workshop.

AdviserKenneth G. Rice
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsSchool counseling; Clinical psychology
Publication Number3386001

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