Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The present thesis provided a detailed examination of the self-concept variables associated with eating disturbance. Two distinct self-concept variables, namely, the content and evaluative dimensions of self, were evaluated in relation to global measures of bulimia nervosa. These self-concept dimensions were further examined in relation to the eating pathology and general maladjustment features of bulimia, including the behavioural, motivational, and cognitive-affective components of eating disturbance.;Study 1 examined the actual and ideal self-concept content dimensions and the self-certainty and attribute importance evaluative self-dimensions, across the domains of body image, depressive personality, sociability, and social roles. Individuals reporting higher levels of bulimia described themselves as fatter, more depressive and less sociable, and they viewed themselves more negatively in comparison to their peers. Higher levels of bulimic symptomatology were also associated with greater actual-ideal self-discrepancies for the body image, depressive personality and sociability domains. Greater self-uncertainty was also evident among individuals with more bulimia, with this relationship evident only for social comparison ratings. More negative self-views of highly important self-attributes had implications for the cognitive-affective components of eating disturbance.;Study 2 provided a more detailed examination of the relationship between bulimia and the content (actual, ideal and feared selves) and evaluative (self-certainty and attribute importance) self-concept dimensions. These self-concept variables were evaluated across primary (body image, self-control, depressive personality) and secondary (sociability, dominance, orderliness, social roles) adjective domains. Results indicated that more negative actual self-views for the primary adjective domains were more predictive of global bulimia and measures of eating pathology; whereas negative actual self-views for the secondary adjective domains were more predictive of general maladjustment. Individuals with higher levels of bulimia also reported a greater discrepancy between their actual and ideal selves and a greater congruence between their actual and feared selves, with this being most evident across the primary adjective domains. Highly certain negative self-views and more negative actual self-views of highly important self-attributes had implications for the cognitive-affective features of bulimia.;The present findings were discussed in relation to cognitive-behavioural models of bulimia, as well as social cognitive theories of the self-concept. Implications for assessment and treatment were also presented. Finally, limitations of the present research were discussed and future research directions were recommended.



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