Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Dianna Murray-Close

Project Collaborators

(Person A) Nicole Lafko Bresland PhD., (Person B) Alexandra Sullivan, (Person C) Dianna Murray-Close PhD.

Graduate Student Mentors

Alexandra Sullivan

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

Presentation Title

Emerging Adults’ Perceptions of Disordered Eating among Close Friends, Popular Peers, and Well-Liked Peers: Associations with Adjustment

Time

11:00 AM

Location

Silver Maple Ballroom - Social Sciences

Abstract

Disordered eating is a prevalent health problem in emerging adults (Eisenberg et al., 2011), and peers’ eating behaviors appear to serve as an important risk factor (Keel et al., 2012). As individuals tend to overestimate their peers’ involvement in dieting behaviors (Gravener et al., 2008), perceptions of peers’ disordered eating may play a particularly important role. Emerging adults may be especially susceptible to the influence of popular peers’ eating behaviors. Thus, we examined whether perceptions of disordered eating among same-sex high-status peers (i.e., popular, liked) and close friends predicted disordered eating behaviors. Further, as adolescent disordered eating is longitudinally related to increases in depressive symptoms and peer victimization (Lee & Vaillancort, 2018), we investigated whether perceptions of peers’ disordered eating behaviors were related to social and psychological well-being (i.e., relational victimization and depressive symptoms) through their association with participants’ own disordered eating.

Participants included 247 primarily Caucasian emerging adults. Participants rated the extent to which their popular, well-liked, and close friend same-sex peers engaged in dieting behavior. Participants also reported on their own eating habits (Garner & Garfinkel, 1979) experiences of relational victimization (Morales & Crick, 1998), and depressive symptoms (Radloff, 1977).

A regression analysis with all three perceptions predicting disordered eating indicated that perceptions of disordered eating among popular peers and close friends, but not well-liked peers, were uniquely associated with disordered eating. Multiple mediation models indicated that participants’ own disordered eating and, in turn, experiences of relational victimization, fully mediated the associations between perceptions of popular and close friend peers’ disordered eating and depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that emerging adults’ beliefs of peer eating behaviors are tied to their own eating behaviors, and appear to increase risk for both social and emotional maladjustment. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed.

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Emerging Adults’ Perceptions of Disordered Eating among Close Friends, Popular Peers, and Well-Liked Peers: Associations with Adjustment

Disordered eating is a prevalent health problem in emerging adults (Eisenberg et al., 2011), and peers’ eating behaviors appear to serve as an important risk factor (Keel et al., 2012). As individuals tend to overestimate their peers’ involvement in dieting behaviors (Gravener et al., 2008), perceptions of peers’ disordered eating may play a particularly important role. Emerging adults may be especially susceptible to the influence of popular peers’ eating behaviors. Thus, we examined whether perceptions of disordered eating among same-sex high-status peers (i.e., popular, liked) and close friends predicted disordered eating behaviors. Further, as adolescent disordered eating is longitudinally related to increases in depressive symptoms and peer victimization (Lee & Vaillancort, 2018), we investigated whether perceptions of peers’ disordered eating behaviors were related to social and psychological well-being (i.e., relational victimization and depressive symptoms) through their association with participants’ own disordered eating.

Participants included 247 primarily Caucasian emerging adults. Participants rated the extent to which their popular, well-liked, and close friend same-sex peers engaged in dieting behavior. Participants also reported on their own eating habits (Garner & Garfinkel, 1979) experiences of relational victimization (Morales & Crick, 1998), and depressive symptoms (Radloff, 1977).

A regression analysis with all three perceptions predicting disordered eating indicated that perceptions of disordered eating among popular peers and close friends, but not well-liked peers, were uniquely associated with disordered eating. Multiple mediation models indicated that participants’ own disordered eating and, in turn, experiences of relational victimization, fully mediated the associations between perceptions of popular and close friend peers’ disordered eating and depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that emerging adults’ beliefs of peer eating behaviors are tied to their own eating behaviors, and appear to increase risk for both social and emotional maladjustment. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed.