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The tripartite influence model suggests that appearance pressures from family, peers, and the media contribute to thin-ideal internalization, which leads to increased body dissatisfaction and subsequent eating disorder pathology. The tripartite influence model was initially developed and tested among primarily White samples, and emerging research suggests racial/ethnic differences in mean levels of particular model constructs. Consequently, the model's appropriateness for understanding eating disorder risk in racial/ethnic minorities warrants investigation to determine its usefulness in explicating eating disorder risk in diverse populations. Participants in the current study were White (n = 1167), Black (n = 212), Latina (n = 203), and Asian (n = 176) women from five geographically disparate college campuses in the United States. Participants completed the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire-4, the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire - Appearance Evaluation Subscale, and the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire. Analysis of variance was used to compare mean levels of each construct across racial/ethnic groups. Multigroup structural equation modeling was used to assess the appropriateness of the tripartite influence model for each racial/ethnic group, and to examine differences in the strength of the model pathways across groups. There were significant mean level differences across groups for most model constructs. However, results indicated similar model fit across racial/ethnic groups, with few differences in the strength of model pathways. Findings suggest that although some groups report lower levels of proposed risk factors, the sociocultural risk processes for eating pathology identified through the tripartite influence model are similar across racial/ethnic groups of young adult women. Such information can be used to inform culturally-sensitive interventions.


This article was originally published in Eating Behaviors, volume 42, in 2021.


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