Associate Professor of Psychology Buffie Longmire-Avital and Honors Fellow Jennifer Finkelstein ‘19 presented research on eating disorders among black collegiate women at the national conference held Jan. 16-18 in Denver, Colorado.
Associate Professor of Psychology Buffie Longmire-Avital and Honors Fellow Jennifer Finkelstein '19 recently presented their research on eating disorders among black collegiate women at a national conference.
The biennial National Multicultural Counseling Summit (NMCS) held Jan. 16-18 in Denver, Colorado, is one of the largest American Psychological Association (APA) supported gatherings for researchers studying mental health and well-being with minority populations.
The poster titled, “‘She does not want me to be like her’: Exploring the role of maternal communication in developing eating pathology among black collegiate women,” examined the relationships among parental and peer influence on the risk of disordered eating behaviors self-reported by Black undergraduate women.
During the mixed-data study, the 143 participants also responded to open-ended questions about the conversations and advice they received from their mothers on body insecurity and eating disorders. Approximately 33 percent of the sample met criteria for a binge eating disorder and findings from the data analyses suggest that collegiate Black American women perceiving pressure from their parents and peers about maintaining a certain body image were more likely to meet criteria for a binge eating disorder and engage in emotional eating.
A majority of the participants (66.4 percent) reported talking to their mothers about body insecurities but less than 25 percent had specific conversations with their mothers specifically about eating disorders. Conventional content analysis in conjunction with iterative coding of open-ended questions revealed a series of categories and themes regarding types of messages received from maternal conversations. These themes included: body monitoring, affirmation of current body, and warning about future size and health through body comparison. Given the biased assumption that eating disorder symptomatology typically affects wealthy, white adolescent girls, this current research has the potential to be incredibly impactful in expanding the focus and models currently in use.
Finkelstein is a psychology major and completed the data collection for this study as a participant in the 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.