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Learning Objective Question:. Do role models encourage anorexia because they lead to teenagers wanting to be impossibly thin?. Learning Approach Lesson objectives. To be able to answer a key issue question-on anorexia nervosa

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Learning objective question

Learning Objective Question:

Do role models encourage anorexia because they lead to teenagers wanting to be impossibly thin?


Learning approach lesson objectives

Learning ApproachLesson objectives

  • To be able to answer a key issue question-on anorexia nervosa

  • To be able to describe and evaluate a treatment for anorexia nervosa

  • To understand the methodology section of LA and recap all prior learning


Anorexia and anorexia nervosa

Anorexia and anorexia nervosa

  • Technically "anorexia" just means a loss of appetite, whereas anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. In practice though, the vast majority of people just say "anorexia" because it's shorter.

  • Bulimia nervosa is… having episodes of binge eating. This is followed by deliberately making themselves sick (self-induced vomiting) or other measures to counteract the excessive food intake.


Eating disorders

Eating Disorders

  • The main two types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia.

  • Do you know what the differences are?

  • You only need to know anorexia nervosa.


Symptoms of anorexia nervosa

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Refusal to eat and maintain a minimum average expected body weight.

  • Fear of gaining weight

  • Distorted body image

  • Amenorrhea (absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles)

  • Weight less than 85% of expected


Learning approach social learning theory

Learning Approach-Social Learning Theory

  • SLT suggests anorexia nervosa may be due to role models in the media.

  • Young people may feel they have to get to around the same weight as thin celebrities in order to be accepted


Social learning theory

Social Learning Theory

  • Teenagers pay attention to the fact that many celebrity role models are extremely thin.

  • They retain this information.

  • They have the ability to reproduce being thin if they diet excessively and will do it if they are motivated to do so.

  • They can see that their role models are famous and rich and this may motivate them to be thin too. Teenagers may think that being thin is what is needed to be rich and famous or even just accepted.


Evaluation of the learning approach

+ Lai (2000) found that the rate of anorexia increased for chinese residents in Hong Kong as the culture slowly became more westernised.

+Crisp et al. (1976) found that dancers and fashion models were more likely to develop anorexia nervosa.

+Mumford et al. (1991) found that Arab and Asian women were more likely to develop eating disorders if they moved to the West.

- Doesn’t explain why the disorder usually develops in adolescence.

- Everyone sees the pictures of slim people, so why is it only some of the population develop an eating disorder?

There are psychodynamic explanations for anorexia nervosa such as fear of growing up and family issues.

Evaluation of the Learning Approach


Key issue describe the issue

Key Issue-Describe the issue

  • Do role models encourage anorexia because they lead to teenagers wanting to be impossibly thin?

  • 1 in 100 girls said to suffer from an eating disorder

  • 8% of 14 year old girls happy with their bodies

  • Different explanations from each approach-Biological, psychodynamic, cognitive etc.

  • Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham said by 95% of girls in a survey to be most influential role model


Explain the issue using l a

Explain the issue using L.A

  • SLT suggests that people imitate role models, especially those they see as relevant to themselves. One concept from the learning approach is identification. When someone identifies with a role model they are likely to imitate their behaviour. It is therefore likely that teenage girls will imitate female models and media celebrities where there is a trend to be very slim. Studies by Bandura have shown that girls copy female models and boys copy male models, so if female role models are slim then girls are likely to want to be slim. If someone observes behaviour but does not identify with the role model they are not so likely to perform the behaviour. Girls who want to be slim are likely to stop eating and can develop eating disorders such as anorexia.

  • Another concept from the learning approach is reinforcement. If a role model is reinforced for being slim, such as being praised, paid more or featured a lot in the media, then they might be imitated more.


Explain the issue using l a1

Explain the issue using L.A

  • Studies by Bandura have shown that behaviour that is rewarded is likely to be imitated more, such as in vicarious learning. There is also negative reinforcement for being fat, through criticism and teasing, to avoid being teased, fat children might starve themselves to slim down which may turn into anorexia. So not wanting to be fat to avoid criticism and wanting to be slim to get praise, might be two types of reinforcement that help to explain anorexia.

  • However, anorexia could also be explained in a different way. The psychodynamic approach suggests that a girl might starve herself to avoid growing up because she is fixated at a certain psychosexual stage. As well as this, support comes from the work of Bandura whose research can be criticised as lacking validity as it was carried out in an unnatural setting and used unnatural conditions so.

  • Nevertheless anorexia is found around the world between different cultures and cross cultural studies support the idea that anorexia is learned.


Biological explanation

Biological explanation:

  • One theory is that the system controlling a person’s sense of appetite becomes disrupted.

  • The primary setting of many of these abnormalities originate in a small area of the brain called the limbic system. A specific system called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) may be particularly important in eating disorders. It originates in the following regions in the brain:

  • Hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a small structure that plays a role in controlling our behavior, such as eating, sexual behavior and sleeping, and regulates body temperature, emotions, secretion of hormones, and movement.

  • Appetite is controlled by the hypothalamus. When your body needs more food, your hypothalamus releases chemicals to stimulate your appetite.

  • Once you have eaten enough food, hormones signal to your hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus will then release a different set of chemicals that essentially reward you for eating, and make you feel satisfied.

  • It is thought that this ‘appetite-reward pathway’ becomes scrambled in people with anorexia. The feeling of fullness after a meal does not produce a sense of reward, but a sense of anxiety, guilt or self-loathing. In turn, feeling hungry may help reduce these negative feelings.


D a r c o c

D.A.R.C.O.C


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