Possible answers based on what you know so far about the different perspectives:
Biological: Something about Andrea's genetic makeup, or perhaps some imbalance in the hormonal or neurological controls for hunger, has led to her maladaptive eating patterns. Some of the actual biological theories have focused on hormonal changes that occur during female adolescence, since this is when symptoms such as these tend to occur.
Learning: Note that people began to pay more attention to her and responded to her better as she got thinner. This would be a consequence that would reinforce the weight-loss behaviors. She also experiences consequences (feeling "fat") when she eats. That negative consequence would lead her to avoid feeling that way.
Cognitive: Andrea has developed a faulty set of cognitions (ways of thinking about herself) that lead her to believe, erroneously, that she is "fat" and that being "thin" makes her a more worthwhile person. These perceptions have become her reality and drive her self-destructive behavior.
Sociocultural: She appears to have adopted societal ideals about what looks good and has shaped how she thinks she should look. Most sociocultural views of eating disorders point to fashion and media "ideals".
Psychodynamic: The root of the problem would be an unresolved, unconscious conflict. In Andrea's case, from what we know, this attack on herself may be her response to the family turmoils related to her parents' relationship-- an issue she has no control over (note how she says that managing her eating makes her feel more in control). A Freudian would also point out her desire for a more "boyish" figure and suggest that she may be trying to deny her own sexual development.
Humanistic: The focus would be on her, as an individual-- her interpretations of the disorder and the possible causes would be of much greater importance. The events that have kept her from maintaining control over her life (thwarting her free will), or that she sees as preventing her from reaching her goals can lead to symptoms (emotional and behavioral) as are seen here.
As we go through the semester, you'll get more in-depth information about these different perspectives and how they can work together to help explain issues and lead to treatments or solutions. In the case presented here, any one or more of the possibilities listed here could explain Andrea's situation, at least in part.Return to the "Introduction to Psychological Science" page
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