There are also sociocultural factors thatplay into the development of an eating disorder, meaning that such factorsappear to play a role in the faulty perceptions and eating habits. Those diagnosed mayhave maladaptive schemata that narrow their attention toward thoughts andimages related to weight, body shape and food.
Within anorexia nervosa, theemphasis on fears of fatness and body image disturbance are the motivatingfactors that powerfully reinforce weight loss. Behaviors that achieve ormaintain thinness are negatively reinforced by the reduction of anxiety aboutbecoming fat as well as positively reinforced by comments from others (did youlose weight? you look great!). Dieting and weight loss is also reinforced bythe sense of mastery or self-control they create. Some theories include personality and sociocultural variables inan attempt to explain how fear of fatness and body-image disturbances develop.For example, perfectionism and asense of personal inadequacy maylead a person to become especially concerned with his or her appearance, makingdieting a potent reinforcer. Similarly, seeing portrayals in the media of thinness as an ideal, being overweightand tending to compare oneself with these images all contribute to dissatisfactionwith one’s body.
Another factor in producing a strong drive for thinness and a distortedbody image is criticism from peers andparents about being overweight. When a person with anorexia nervosaexperiences a lapse in their strict dieting, the lapse is likely to escalateinto a binge. Emotions also play a role; people with anorexia deal with manynegative emotions. Although they also may experience a positive emotion such asintense pride, after losing weight or avoiding eating a piece of cake at aparty. This may be indistinguishable from happiness or success and is referredto as low positive emotion differentiation.