This study examined women's eating disorder symptoms and the quality of the attachment relationship with their mothers and romantic partners for a sample of 117 participants, ages 18 to 22. Seventeen of the participants were in treatment for an eating disorder and 100 were untreated college students, but engaging in binge eating. There were no significant differences between the groups in dieting and bingeing. The treated group reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, esteem threat from mothers and boyfriends, attachment avoidance, and anxious ambivalent attachment as compared to the untreated group. Depression related positively to bingeing behaviors for untreated participants. There was a negative relation between esteem threat from mothers and dieting behavior for those in treatment. Esteem threat from both mothers and romantic partners related positively to anxiety and depression for both groups. Esteem enhancement from romantic partners related negatively to anxiety for those in treatment. An anxious ambivalent attachment relationship with mothers related positively to depression for both groups and to anxiety for the untreated group. The results suggest the value of improving relationships with mothers and romantic partners for the mental health of young women with disordered eating behaviors.
Landrau, Erica and Short, Jerome
"The Role of Relationship Attachment Styles in Disordered Eating Behaviors,"
Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Journal:
Vol. 1, Article 11.
Available at: http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/caaurj/vol1/iss1/11