Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder and mental health condition that can be life threatening. The condition affects approximately 1% of 16-18 year olds in the UK. People with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible, usually by restricting the amount of food that they eat. They often have a distorted image of themselves, thinking they are fat when they are not. People affected by anorexia go through attempts to hide their behaviour from family and friends by lying about eating and what they have eaten.
The behaviourist explanation believes that anorexia nervosa is a learned behaviour and the condition is caused by classical conditioning. The explanation believes that the condition is maintained by positive reinforcement- the sufferer diets and loses weight is encouraged and praised by peers and society. Those who are overweight get criticised and are disapproved of and sometimes face ridicule because of their body appearance. Positive reinforcement for weight loss becomes so powerful that the individual maintains the anorexic behaviour despite threats to health which could
SLT is also linked to be a cause of anorexia due to people imitating a person that they admire. With celebrity culture being so popular in the Western world, this could be a significant link. People are exposed to unrealistic images of celebrities every day in the media and the people who are celebrities are continuously looked at for their weight. There is a high correlation between the body image concern of young girls and the portrayal of thin models in the media. Young women see female role models rewarded for being slim and attractive- therefore creating the vicarious reinforcement that there is an association between being slim and successful. As a result, the rewards are being received indirectly through seeing someone slim being rewarded, this will encourage the individual to slim in order to gain the same