Comps Insider: Emily Boxrud ’19

Emily Boxrud ’19, a psychology major with a minor in neuroscience from Red Wing, Minn., tells us about her senior capstone experience, or “Comps,” in support of her psychology degree.

Apr. 18, 2019

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What is the title of your Comps?

Fit-Ideal Media and Eating Disorder Development: Pathways for Influencing Disordered Thinking and Behavior

What is your Comps topic?

My topic is surrounding social media’s depiction of the fit-ideal body type (particularly among young women) and how it may be influencing engagement in disordered thinking (i.e. body dissatisfaction or preoccupation with food or weight) or behavior (i.e. restrictive dieting or excessive exercise) associated with eating disorder development.

Why did you choose your Comps topic?

I was interested in researching a topic that involved eating disorders because they’re incredibly prevalent, especially with the rise of social media and westernized appearance standards promoted among those social media. Much of the social media depicting fit-ideal body types is intended for motivation or inspiration to live a “healthier lifestyle,” but many of the messages being given are promoting behaviors and thinking patterns associated with eating disorder development. I wanted to expose this aspect of social media influence and that’s what really sparked my Comps topic.

What was the most interesting article or piece of information that you found while researching your Comps?

I read a really fascinating study* (citation below) that looked at risk factors for eating disorder development in adolescents who had been diagnosed with an eating disorder. One of the more interesting findings that I included in my Comps was that exercise behavior was as important, if not more, as dieting behavior in eating disorder development. Over half of the participants in this study engaged in some form of exercise before engaging in any kind of dieting behavior associated with their eating disorder.

*Davis, C., Kennedy, S. H., Ravelski, E., & Dionne, M. (1994). The role of physical activity in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. Psychological Medicine, 24(04), 957. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291700029044

What was your Comps process like?

My Comps process required a great deal of just reading; reading any available and relevant meta-analyses, reviews, and experimental studies. After having read relevant and knowledgeable information, I then spent time coming up with my own conclusions and ideas for my contribution to the field. At times, the process seemed like I wasn’t going anywhere, but at other times I felt like I was doing too much—which ultimately made feel completely overwhelmed. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful Comps advisor that helped me through all of my anxieties and concerns with my project. By the time I turned in my final paper, I felt completely comfortable and confident in my work, which is all you can ask for!

Why do you think it was valuable for you to write a Comps?

It was incredibly valuable to me to write a Comps! I intend on going to medical school In the next few years and research-oriented work is helpful for both the application process and for ovrall preparation for schooling overall. It also helped me gain self-confidence in being able to complete such a project and gives me hope for future endeavors.

Will you expand on your Comps in any way?

I hope to continue learning more about eating disorder development in my future studies, however I don't have any current plans on expanding on my Comps specifically.

My Comps can be found in Carleton’s Digital Commons.