Date of Award

Summer 8-2015

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Additional Affiliations

Clinical Psychology (Ph.D.)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Social networking website (SNW) use has been found to be associated with decreased body image or esteem and increased eating disorder (ED) symptoms. In turn, SNW use may also be associated with decreased motivation to improve body image (BI) and reduced self-efficacy in one’s ability to do so. However, the impact of SNW use on motivation or self-efficacy to improve BI has not yet been studied. Also, particular moderators of the relationships between SNW and eating pathology have not yet been evaluated. This study aimed to: 1) replicate past literature by examining the relation between SNW use and eating pathology, specifically ED symptom severity, weight concerns, and ED-related clinical impairment; 2) evaluate whether depression, anxiety, and perfectionism might moderate the relations of SNW and eating pathology; and 3) examine the relation between SNW use and both motivation and self-efficacy to improve BI. Participants were 549 women, age 18-25 at varying levels of the eating disorder risk and diagnostic spectrum (i.e., from those at low risk for an eating disorder to those with clinical eating disorders) that completed self-report measures of the study constructs. Results indicated that SNW use was positively significantly associated with ED symptoms (p = 0.022) and with weight concerns at a level that trended toward significance (p = 0.051), but that SNW use was not significantly associated with ED-related clinical impairment (p = 0.108). Perfectionism was found to significantly moderate the relationship between SNW use and ED symptoms (p = 0.030), such that that those individuals with low levels of SNW use who had low levels of perfectionism had lower levels of ED symptom severity than those with low SNW use and high perfectionism. SNW use was also positively associated with motivation to improve BI (p = .036) but not self-efficacy to improve BI (p = 0.517). As such, results indicate that high perfectionism is associated with greater ED symptom severity regardless of the level of SNW use endorsed by individuals, but when individuals are low on perfectionism they are found to have greater ED symptom severity only when also endorsing high levels of SNW.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Denise E. Wilfley

Committee Members

Thomas F. Oltmanns, Brian D. Carpenter


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