Motivations for dieting: Drive for Thinness is different from Drive for Objective Thinness

J Abnorm Psychol. 2010 May;119(2):276-81. doi: 10.1037/a0018398.


Drive for thinness is a cardinal feature of bulimia nervosa. However, the widely used Drive for Thinness (DFT) subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory (Garner, 2004; Garner, Olmstead, & Polivy, 1983) appears to measure a desire to be thinner, not a desire to be objectively thin. We developed the Drive for Objective Thinness (DFOT) Scale and compared unrestrained and restrained eaters and those with bulimia nervosa on the DFT subscale, Goldfarb's Fear of Fat Scale (GFFS; Goldfarb, Dykens, & Gerrard, 1983), and the DFOT Scale. Restrained eaters had higher scores than unrestrained eaters on the DFT subscale and the GFFS, but both groups had low scores on the DFOT Scale. Only the group with bulimia nervosa showed elevated scores on the DFOT Scale. We conclude that restrained eaters diet mostly to avoid weight gain, that individuals with bulimia nervosa diet to achieve thinness and avoid fatness, and that the drive for objective thinness is a unique feature of bulimia nervosa.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Drive*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinness*