Student Research Projects

A Distorted Image: Athletes and Eating Disorders

Student Courtney Bogan, '16
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course Psychology 480: Originial Research Project


Many athletes at the college level strive to become the best they can be through intensive exercise and the drive to be faster and stronger than their opponents (Anderson & Neumann, 2012). These pressures can lead to the athlete engaging in tactics to lessen their overall body fat, and attempt to be purely muscle. (Montenegro, 2006). This behavior can lead to a distorted body image and subsequent disordered eating (Thompson, 1999). For this study, I examined whether there is a relationship between athletes and disordered eating. Secondly, I tested to see if there were any correlations between body image, perfectionism and disordered eating. The study comprised of 78 Virginia Wesleyan Students, 16 athletes and 58 non-athletes. The results demonstrated the opposite from my main hypothesis that athletes would be more likely to score high on disordered eating. There were not any significant differences between athletes and non-athletes on eating disorder symptoms, but athletes scored higher than non-athletes on the social pressure subscale of perfectionism. There was a significant correlation such that individuals who scored high on the body image questionnaire had lower scores on the perfectionism and disordered eating scales. Even though my results did not supported my main hypothesis, these results are potentially positive, as it appears athletes at Virginia Wesleyan are not at high risk for an eating pathology.