Date Awarded

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Victoria A. Foster

Committee Member

Thomas J. Ward

Committee Member

Charles R. McAdams


The purpose of this research was to investigate the sociocultural model of eating disorder development among male and female college student-athletes as moderated by students’ level of Reflective Judgment, a stage theory of adult epistemology marked by increasing cognitive complexity. A review of literature on the established relationships between pressures in sociocultural and sport environments to adhere to body ideals and resulting body dissatisfaction as mediated by body ideal internalization was presented. The Reflective Judgment model was hypothesized as a moderator to body ideal internalization due to its relationship with feminist identity development (a moderator among females) and applicability to both genders to inform current interventions. A sample of 131 NCAA college student-athletes (33 male; 98 female) completed the Perceived Sociocultural Pressures Scale (PSPS), the Weight Pressures in Sport Scale (WPS), the Body Parts Satisfaction Scale (BPSS), the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Scale-3 (SATAQ-3) and the Reasoning about Current Issues test (RCI). Multi-sample Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was utilized to examine the hypothesized relationships between the variables and revealed significant differences between genders. In general, males’ higher Reflective Judgment was a full mediator between pressures and body dissatisfaction, resulting in lower body dissatisfaction. However, females’ higher Reflective Judgment was a moderator between pressures and body ideal internalization, resulting in higher body dissatisfaction. These major findings as well as additional findings as elaborated by curvilinear regression analysis, current literature, and theories of socialized gender differences in epistemology were presented. Limitations, areas for further research, and implications for practice were identified.



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