Skip to main content


Romantic attachment, social support, sexual approach style and sociocultural influences on eating disorder symptoms

The purpose of this study was to examine the prediction of eating disorder symptoms within an integrated theoretically-driven model of romantic attachment, social support, sexual approach styles and the internalization of the media's portrayal of ideal body standards. A community sample of 671 women aged 19 to 88 years completed a series of self-report questionnaires. The findings supported a mediation model of romantic attachment being associated with eating disorder symptoms through interpersonal factors (perceived social support, game-playing and possessive sexual approach styles), and an environmental factor (the internalization of the media's depiction of ideal body standards). Romantic attachment anxiety predicted eating disorder symptoms directly; however, romantic attachment avoidance did not. Instead it predicted other factors. The findings enhance the understanding of the pathways influencing eating disorder symptoms and indicate that the attachment theory is a valuable framework to integrate the literature regarding sociocultural theory, sexual approach style, social support and eating disorders.

This abstract was presented in the Disordered Eating – Characteristics & Treatment stream of the 2013 ANZAED Conference.

Author information

Correspondence to Cassandra Dean.

Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. 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.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article


  • Environmental Factor
  • Social Support
  • Health Promotion
  • Disease Prevention
  • Eating Disorder