The Role of Personality in its Contribution to Eating Disorder Susceptibility in Dancers.
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Recent findings have suggested perfectionism is a prominent trait in the susceptibility of eating disorders in ballet dancers (Thomas, Keel & Heatherton, 2005). Our study extended these findings by investigating how eating attitudes and behaviours relate to the five factors of personality and perfectionism in a sample of ballet dancers, general dancers and non-dancers. Participants completed a questionnaire consisting of the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ), Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS), NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) and Eating Attitudes and Behaviours Questionnaire (EAB-Q) which was developed for the purpose of the present experiment. The evidence suggested that ballet dancers have significantly higher levels of perfectionism and neuroticism and lower levels of extraversion and openness. These individuals were also significantly more likely to possess eating disorder symptomatology. However, personality was not the only factor accounting for the variance among groups. I argue that that an additional prominent factor in eating disorder vulnerability is the particularly intense environment endured by the ballet dancers. I consider a possible causal model which will be useful for further research in establishing the core predisposing factors of eating disorder vulnerability.