Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Kent Burnett

Second Committee Member

Margaret Crosbie-Burnett

Third Committee Member

Etiony Aldarondo

Fourth Committee Member

Warren A. Whisenant


The prevalence of eating disorders has been on the rise since the 1970s and 1980s, a time that coincided with the dieting boom. Over thirty years later, eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, have grown to become an epidemic with nearly 20 million women affected (Wade, 2011). Although differing prevalence rates exist, it is reported that approximately one in 200 American women will suffer from anorexia and one to three in 100 will suffer from bulimia (DSM IV-TR, 2000). Many of these women are on college campuses and find themselves dieting as a weight control method, a precursor to developing an eating disorder. Those who are athletes may be at even higher risk for developing an eating disorder. High levels of personal perfectionism and high levels of parental perfectionism (i.e., high parental performance expectations for their children) are among the factors that may increase eating disorder risk. The objective of the current research was to examine personal and parental perfectionism in relation to eating disorder risk in female collegiate athletes and non-athletes. One hundred and four athletes, representing four sports, and 112 non-athletes completed the Eating Attitudes Test-26 (Garner et al., 1982), the Multidimensional Perfectionism Questionnaire (Frost, 1996) and a short demographic survey. Results of the current research indicated that athletes did not have significantly higher scores either on eating disorder risk, personal perfectionism, or parental perfectionism. However, the data showed that both athletes' and non-athletes' personal perfectionism scores were significantly correlated with their eating disorder risk (r = .33 and r = .49, respectively). Parental perfectionism, however, was not significantly related to eating disorder risk for either group. The present findings are consistent with the idea that a high level of personal perfectionism may increase eating disorder risk for both female collegiate athletes and non-athletes. Recommendations for researchers, coaches and other collegiate staff, and campus administrators are included.


eating disorders; perfectionism; female college athletes