nvestigating eating disorders directly is difficult due to its sensitivity, and as distorted body image is an important element of eating disorders, the research is designed to investigate preferred ideal body image as an alternative. Many cross-cultural studies have shown that eating disorders are more prevalent in Western societies (Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa). In all of these societies there is no food shortages and yet being attractive is associated with being slim.
This indicates that there must be variables present in Western societies that are not in other countries. One of the most obvious is that Western societies are increasingly bombarded with images of ultra-slim models that promote the representation that ‘slim is beautiful’, at the same time levels of eating disorders have dramatically raised. Aim- To determine if ethnic origin has an affect on a person’s preferred ideal body shape. It would be logical to assume that people who originate from countries outside of Western Society would have a larger ideal body shape than those originating from the United Kingdom.
However, as my study will take place in the United Kingdom (a Western society) . Hypothesis- I predict that ethnic origin will have no significant affect on preferred ideal body shape and any results showing that it does are coincidental and caused by chance factors. This null hypothesis is supported by a study by Nasser (1986) who showed that immigrants from cultures where eating disorders are rare develop anorexia just as frequently as those born in industrialized countries.
Mumford et al (1991) also suggested that more traditional Asians had greater concerns about body shape and size than the less traditional Asians. Alternative 1-tailed hypothesis- I predict that people who originate from countries outside Western society will have a larger preferred ideal body shape. The participants were selected through opportunity sampling, all 24 of which were Enfield College students and asked them to fill out a questionnaire.
The researchers approached all participants individually and asked them to fill in a questionnaire that asks them they’re age group, ethnic origin and they’re preferred ideal body shape from a selection of four silhouettes of varying sizes, however we did not reveal to them the aim of the experiment. The questionnaire’s used and images of the four silhouettes can be found in the appendices. The majority of the participants were approached in the colleges learning centre, canteen or in various classes.
We attempted to control for variables such as age and gender, by only approaching female potential participants and tried to narrow them down so they were all from one age group. During the research we followed ethical guidelines and described on all the questionnaires were instruction to participants, which stated that all information provided is confidential; they have the right to withdraw at any time; they would be treated with respect and that they would be debriefed as to the aim of the research after the study had been concluded.