Similarity in young women's eating attitudes: Self-selected versus artificially constructed groups




The current study explored similarity (in terms of eating attitudes, depression, and anxiety) among new versus established groups of young women.


Three hundred and thirty-two female students (living in 80 apartments) participated in the study. They were either living in a newly formed “no-choice” apartment or a “choice” apartment where they had chosen their housemates. All participants completed the Eating Disorders Inventory and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The groups were compared using similarity indices (showing attitude spread per apartment).


Consistent with our hypothesis, the choice groups held more similar eating-related attitudes and depression levels than the no-choice groups. Specifically, the choice groups were significantly more similar in their levels of ineffectiveness, interpersonal distrust, and social insecurity.


In a similar way to depression, eating attitudes may be shared among relatively close groups of women. © 2004 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 36: 213–219, 2004.