The impact of racial stereotypes on eating disorder recognition

Kathryn H. Gordon, Marisol Perez, Thomas E. Joiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Objective: Eating disorders are commonly believed to affect Caucasian women more so than other women. The authors examined whether participants recognize disturbed eating symptoms to a lesser degree in an African American or Hispanic female compared with a Caucasian female. Method: A sample of 160 undergraduate students of different ethnic backgrounds read a passage about an adolescent girl who displayed eating disorder symptoms. Participants received one of three passages; the passages differed only regarding the girl's race (African American, Caucasian, or Hispanic). Participants completed questionnaires used to reveal possible racial stereotypes about eating disorders. Results: The study found that the race of the adolescent girl had a significant impact on detection of disturbed eating patterns, such that participants recognized the eating disorder more when they read about a Caucasian girl than when they read about a minority girl (Hispanic or African American). Discussion: The results have implications for public awareness of eating disorders, as well as clinical implications for work with eating disorder patients from various ethnic backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-224
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Eating disorder recognition
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Racial stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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