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Eating Behaviours

2) Cultural Influences and attitudes to food

Some psychologists argue that the culture you live in has a huge effect on your attitude towards food. Some examples of this could be:

Social class – Dornbush et al (2002) found that in a survey of 7000 American teenagers it was the higher class females that had the greatest desire to be thin. This suggests that social class can affect your eating behaviour as middle-class people are more likely to want to diet and eat less.

Ethnicity – Powell and Kahn found that white women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and be dissatisfied with their body than black of Asian women. This suggests that white people are more likely to take a negative attitude towards eating. Similarly Ball and Kenardy (2002) studied 14000 Australian women between 18 and 21. They found that the longer the participants has lived in Australia, the more the women reported attitudes and eating behaviours similar to women born in Australia. This tells us that over time we adopt the behaviour of attitudes to food of the culture we live in.


Mumford et alfound that the incidence of bulimia amongst Asian school girls was much higher than that of white schoolgirls. This questions the idea that ethnicity can influence your attitude towards food.

Story et al – found that actually higher social class had greater body satisfaction and lower levels of weight control behaviours than the lower social classes. This questions the link between social class and eating behaviours.


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


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