Perceptions of the acceptability of eating-disordered behaviour were examined in young adult women with (n=44) and without (n=268) eating disorder symptoms. All participants viewed vignettes of anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) and responded to the same series of questions-addressing different possible ways in which the conditions described might be seen to be acceptable-in relation to each vignette. Participants with eating disorder symptoms perceived eating-disordered behaviour to be more acceptable than asymptomatic participants, and this was the case for both AN and BN vignettes and for a range of different items. Differences on items tapping the perception that it 'might not be too bad' to have an eating disorder and that an eating disorder is 'nothing to be concerned about' were particularly pronounced. The findings could not be accounted for by between-group differences in body weight. The findings indicate the ambivalence towards eating-disordered behaviour that exists among a subgroup of young women in the community and the clear association between such ambivalence and actual eating disorder symptoms. The perceived acceptability of eating-disordered behaviour may need to be addressed in prevention and early-intervention programs for eating disorders.
- Eating disorders
- Mental health literacy