Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Denise Wilfley


Abstract: Objective: Previous data suggests that ethnic identity: i.e., belonging, affirmation, and commitment to an ethnic group; EI) is associated with eating disorder: ED) symptoms in ethnic minority women. The current study examined whether level of EI affects the association between perfectionism and ED symptoms in a multi-ethnic sample. Methods: 375 women ages 18-25 at high-risk for ED onset: 55.1% Caucasian, 18.7% Asian/Asian-American, 9.6% black/African-American, 9.9% Latina) were recruited as part of a randomized-controlled trial of an Internet-based ED prevention program, and completed questionnaires prior to randomization. EI was measured by the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure; perfectionism by the Eating Disorders Inventory: EDI) perfectionism subscale; and ED symptoms by the EDI drive for thinness subscale: EDI-dt) and the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire: EDE-Q). Hierarchical regression analyses were performed for each ED symptom variable. Results: Analyses revealed a significant three-way interaction among Latina ethnicity, level of EI, and perfectionism to predict EDI-dt: p<0.05). Among Latinas, EI attenuated the relationship between perfectionism and EDI-dt, while for Asian/Asian-American women EI enhanced this relationship. Additionally, a main effect inverse relationship was found between EI and EDE-Q scores in Caucasian women: p<0.05). Conclusions: Results suggest that EI is relevant to understanding the association between ED symptoms and perfectionism in women from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Assessing EI in a clinical setting may enable the development of personalized prevention and treatment approaches. Future work should continue to explore the role of cultural variables in the onset and maintenance of EDs.


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