In this study, we extended past research (Brannan & Petrie, 2008; Tylka, 2004) by examining perfectionism, optimism, self-esteem, and reasons for exercising as moderators of the body dissatisfaction-bulimic symptoms relationship among female collegiate athletes (N= 204). Hierarchical moderated regression was used to control for social desirability and physical size and then tested the main and interactive effects of the models. Body dissatisfaction was related to the measure of bulimic symptoms, accounting for 24% of the variance. Four variables were statistically significant as moderators. More concern over mistakes and being motivated to exercise to improve appearance and attractiveness or to socialize and improve mood increased the strength of the relationship between body dissatisfaction and bulimic symptoms. Self-esteem had a buffering effect that resulted in a weakened relationship.
Megan Brannan and Trent Petrie are with the Department of Psychology, Christy Greenleaf is with the Department of KHPR, all at the University of North Texas in Denton. Justine J. Reel is with the Department of Health Promotion and Education at the University of Utah. Jennifer E. Carter is with the Center for Balanced Living in Worthington, OH.