International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 13 Num. 1 - March 2013


Drive for thinness as a women?s strategy to avoid inferiority

Volume 13 Num. 1 - March 2013 - Pages 15-29


Cl?udia Ferreira , Jos? Pinto Gouveia , Cristiana Duarte


The emphasis on the need to achieve and be successful, and the contextual competitive dynamics in Western societies, may explain the increase of distinct forms of psychopathology. This study examined sex differences relative to the expression and consequences of feeling under pressure to compete to avoid a threatening social position. Also, we tested whether insecure striving moderates the impact of a low social rank on drive for thinness, in women. In this cross-sectional study self-report measures of insecure striving and secure non-striving, social comparison, depression, anxiety and stress, and eating disorders symptomatology were completed by a sample of 245 male and 429 female students. For both men and women, the need to strive is associated with general psychopathological symptoms (depression, anxiety and stress). Furthermore, insecure striving was a significant moderator between a low social rank and the endorsement of the importance of thinness and dieting behaviours in women. These findings support the hypothesis that drive for thinness arises as a competitive weapon to assure a secure place in the social world.

Key words:

striving, social rank mentality, eating disorders? symptoms, thinness

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