Murray State Theses and Dissertations


There is evidence that social factors influence eating-disordered behaviors through social modeling and social comparison. One way that researchers examine social comparison and perceptions of individuals with disordered eating behaviors is through vignette studies, but these studies may lack the nuance of how these behaviors are displayed outside of the lab, and therefore lack external validity. The current study examined how individuals who score high and low on the EAT-26 (a measure of eating behavior) perceive the eating behaviors of a fictional peer and possible social comparison target, presented in the form of a social media profile. Participants with higher scores on the EAT-26 found statuses that displayed potentially eating-disordered behaviors as more acceptable and were more likely to think it “might not be bad” to be like the woman in the profile, but did not find the statuses any more healthy, less concerning, or the profile as a whole as less distressing. Approximately half of the sample identified the woman in the profile as having an eating disorder, and EAT-26 scores had no predictive value in making this determination.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

eating disorders, facebook, social media, EAT-26

Degree Awarded

Master of Arts




College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Thesis Advisor

Sean Rife

Committee Member

Jana Hackathorn

Committee Member

Laura Liljequist

Committee Member

Angie Trzepacz

Document Type