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      Autonomy and Submissiveness as Cognitive and Cultural Factors Influencing Eating Disorders in Italy and Sweden: An Exploratory Study


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          The aim of this exploratory study was to investigate the correlation between cultural and psychological factors in relation to predicting eating disorders in two different non-clinical Italian (n = 61) and Swedish (n = 31) female populations, thought to have different cultures and lifestyles. The Swedish sample would reflect an emancipated model of women pursuing autonomy and freedom but also an ideal of thinness, while the Italian sample would reflect a difficult transition from traditional submissiveness to modern autonomy. Both groups completed self-report instruments assessing cultural values (e.g., collectivism and individualism) and features of eating disorders (e.g., drive for thinness, bulimia, body dissatisfaction, self-esteem, parental criticism and perfectionism). Swedish women were found to display higher levels of bulimia, perfectionism, and individualism than Italian women, while regression analysis showed that in the Italian sample high levels of collectivism were correlated with measures of EDs. The results support the hypothesis that EDs are linked with both modern values of autonomy, independence and emancipation, and situations of cultural transition in which women are simultaneously exposed to traditional models of submission and opportunities for emancipation and autonomy.

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          Most cited references30

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          Risk and maintenance factors for eating pathology: a meta-analytic review.

          Eric Stice (2002)
          This meta-analytic review of prospective and experimental studies reveals that several accepted risk factors for eating pathology have not received empirical support (e.g., sexual abuse) or have received contradictory support (e.g.. dieting). There was consistent support for less-accepted risk factors(e.g., thin-ideal internalization) as well as emerging evidence for variables that potentiate and mitigate the effects of risk factors(e.g., social support) and factors that predict eating pathology maintenance(e.g., negative affect). In addition, certain multivariate etiologic and maintenance models received preliminary support. However, the predictive power of individual risk and maintenance factors was limited, suggesting it will be important to search for additional risk and maintenance factors, develop more comprehensive multivariate models, and address methodological limitations that attenuate effects.
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            The dimensions of perfectionism

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              Individualism-collectivism and personality.

              This paper provides a review of the main findings concerning the relationship between the cultural syndromes of individualism and collectivism and personality. People in collectivist cultures, compared to people in individualist cultures, are likely to define themselves as aspects of groups, to give priority to in-group goals, to focus on context more than the content in making attributions and in communicating, to pay less attention to internal than to external processes as determinants of social behavior, to define most relationships with ingroup members as communal, to make more situational attributions, and tend to be self-effacing.

                Author and article information

                Eur J Psychol
                Europe's Journal of Psychology
                Eur. J. Psychol.
                29 May 2015
                : 11
                : 2
                : 233-243
                [a ]Studi Cognitivi, Post-graduate Psychotherapy School, Milan, Italy
                [b ]Department of Human Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy
                [c ]School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden
                [d ]Psicoterapia Cognitiva e Ricerca, Post-graduate Psychotherapy School, Milan, Italy
                [e ]Azienda Sanitaria Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy
                [6]University of South Wales, Newport, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Human Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, 20126, Italy. guido.veronese@ 123456unimib.it
                Copyright @

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 20 December 2014
                : 14 March 2015
                Research Reports

                collectivism,individualism,eating disorders,culture
                collectivism, individualism, eating disorders, culture


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