Lay theories of anorexia nervosa



One hundred sixty-eight subjects completed a 105-item questionnaire that explored their beliefs about the cause, correlates, and cures of anorexia nervosa. The questionnaire was derived from interviews with lay people that concerned their beliefs and theories about anorexia. The three parts of the questionnaire were individually factor analyzed, and an interpretable factor structure emerged for each. While age and body size did not correlate with these factors, sex, personal experience of eating disorders, and being acquainted with an anorexic were significant correlates of a number of factors. Factors associated with cause, correlates, and cure were correlated modestly and significantly. Both the introduction and the discussion consider the differences between “lay” and “scientific” theories of anorexia nervosa.