Unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion as predictors of eating disorder symptomatology
It is well known that nine out of ten eating disorder sufferers are female, but the question remains whether the large female-male eating disorder ratio (consistently shown as a sex difference) can be explained in terms of gender (personality traits such as masculine and feminine) differences. Agency (or focus on the self) and communion (or focus on others) have been examined as gender role and personality traits. At the extremes of the continuums, unmitigated agency (focus on the self at the exclusion of others) and unmitigated communion (focus on others while neglecting the self) have been shown to be correlated with negative psychological and physiological consequences. In this study, unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion were examined as predictors of eating disorder continuum categories (i.e., asymptomatic, symptomatic, eating disordered). Results confirmed the hypothesis that higher levels of unmitigated agency and unmitigated communion were significant predictors of a more severe eating disorder symptoms. Unmitigated communion and unmitigated agency significantly assisted sex's ability to correctly identify eating disorder symptom level. Unmitigated communion and unmitigated agency uniquely explain 2.61% of the chi-square unit variability; their unique additive effect was 40% that of sex's ability to predict eating disorder symptom category. Persons who exhibit neither of these extreme gender traits are less likely to present eating disorder symptoms. Unmitigated communion and unmitigated agency significantly and meaningfully add to our understanding of what factors predict eating disorder symptom severity-a topic that, until now, has been far too dominated by sex comparisons. Exploratory analyses and suggestions for future research are also reported.