Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis




In numerous studies over the years, body image and dysfunctional attitudes toward food have shown to be related to the genesis of eating disorders. Recent research has particularly focused on the influence that families have on both the development of eating disorders as well as their impact on their child's body image and eating attitudes. In general, higher levels of expressed emotion are often found in families with children who have either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. However, there is a lack of research on sub-clinical populations. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to analyze the influence that expressed emotion has on body image and eating attitudes, which are often markers of sub-clinical eating dysfunction. Ninety-nine female undergraduate students from Butler University completed questionnaires assessing eating attitudes, restraint, body shape, fear of becoming fat, and expressed emotion. My hypothesis is that a high level of expressed emotion in families is positively correlated with dysfunctional attitudes toward food and distorted body image. Pearson correlations showed that indeed there are significant relationships between high expressed emotion and negative eating attitudes, increased restraint in eating patterns, poor body image, and fear of becoming fat in college-aged women. Results are discussed in light of relevant theory.