Pondering Pro-Anorexia Websites: What Effects Do They Have?

Pro-Anorexia websites promote anorexia as a lifestyle choice, encouraging women to be extremely thin. In one study done on the effects of viewing these sites, It was determined that site exposure has negative affective and cognitive consequences for women. A research team evaluated these effects by conducting a prototypical pro-anorexia site and testing it out with 235 female undergraduate subjects. The participants were told that they were taking part in a study examining contents of internet websites and were asked to fill out a pre-website questionnaire. Each were randomly assigned to view one of the three sites offered in the study. One site was a comparison site relative to female fashion and career dressing tips the other was home decor and the last site was obviously the pro-anorexia website for 25 minutes. The constructed website includes everything a real pro-anorecia website would include. Some of the information found on a pro-anorecia website are “Ana creed”, purging tips, ways to make excuses not to eat, a chat board and a “thinspiration” photo gallery. Of the 235 women, 84 viewed the pro-anorexia website, 76 viewed a comparison website focused on the female image, and 75 viewed the neutral home decor website. Afterwards, the participants were asked to complete a second set of post-website questionnaires. The questions included the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, the State Self-Esteem scale, the Appearance-Modified General Self-Efficacy Scale, the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) and the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire. Participants who were exposed to the pro-anorexia website had greater negative affect, lower social self-esteem, and lower appearance self-efficacy than women in the other groups. They also perceived themselves as heavier after viewing the site than did viewers of the other websites. On the other hand, those women who viewed the other websites had reported that viewing the website would not affect their likelihood of engaging in the behaviors and cognitions assessed. Therefore, if a single viewing of the pro-anorexia website caused such a terrible reaction, than multiple viewings would only increase these reactions. Also, there is still a greater negative impact on viewing average-sixes women, furthermore concluding that it is something about how the female image is depicted and discussed on a website that produces the negative effects and not just the focus on the image. This article can be utilized in my research paper to back up my argument and mentioning of pro-anorexia websites, paralleling to a previously posted blog on the subject. It provides a proven scientific study to display to the audience, the harm in these websites.

Unknown. Eating Disorders Review for Professionals. “Pondering Pro-Anorexia Websites: What Effects Do They Have?.” Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review. September/October 2007 Volume 18, Number 5. http://eatingdisordersreview.com/nl/nl_edr_18_5_7.html

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