Investigating the impact of pro-anorexia websites: a pilot study




This pilot study examined the affective and cognitive consequences of exposure to a pro-anorexia website.


Young women (N=24) were randomly assigned to view one of three websites created by the investigators: a prototypical pro-anorexia website, a website about female fashion using average-sized models, or an appearance-neutral website about home décor. Participants completed a set of questionnaires assessing mood and cognitions pre- and post-website.


Trends indicated that women who viewed the pro-anorexia website decreased in self-esteem, appearance self-efficacy, and perceived attractiveness, and increased in negative affect and perception of being overweight. This pattern was not found among women who viewed the control websites.


Preliminary data suggest that viewing pro-anorexia websites has negative affective and cognitive effects on young women. Future directions are discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.