Tami Lempert, I am extremely grateful to Tami, she was my project supervisor. She guided me through the process of designing and carrying out a psychological study. She always gave me constructive criticism and thanks to her I have pushed myself to produce a study I am extremely proud of.
This study examined the short-term impact on self-esteem and body image of a single brief exposure to a pro-anorexia website (PAW). Cognitive theory of eating disorders was the main rationale for the study. It was hypothesised that disturbed body schemas increase susceptibility to pro-anorexia websites. 60 young women aged 20-35 were randomly assigned to participate in one of the four experimental conditions. A PAW 'Thinspiration' section (images of thin models); a PAW 'Forum' section (an open discussion board used by individuals to discuss eating patterns and build affinity networks); a PAW 'Tips-and-tricks' section (provides visitors with pieces of advice about how to deceive the diagnostic instruments, description of techniques to kill the appetite, unique exercise advice, etc); a control section (a website about female fashion using average-sized models). Participants completed one questionnaire assessing appearance beliefs before they viewed the website, they also completed a set of questionnaires assessing cognitions related to self-esteem and body-image pre- and post-website. Participants with disturbed body schemas experienced a significant drop in self-esteem but not in body image. The 'Thinspiration' condition had the largest impact on body-image of all the PAW conditions. Findings suggest that occasional short-term viewing of PAWs is not likely to have major negative effect on young women with normal appearance schema. Young women with disturbed appearance schema are more vulnerable to negative effects of viewing PAWs. Future research in the field of cognitive elements responsible for self-esteem and body image is needed to assess the potential danger of PAWs in relation to increased risk of developing eating disorders.
Anorexia nervosa is the most commonly met eating disorder that, according to some estimates, affects up to one percent of women in the U.K.: it is often addressed as the most lethal of all mental disorders (Lask & Bryant-Waugh, 2000). Anorexia nervosa is characterised by extreme anxiety to reduce body weight, or maintain it at an abnormally low level. Excessively strict monitoring of calorie intake and distorted perception of physical appearance are reported to be the most common