Acculturation, out-group positivity and eating disorders symptoms among Emirati women

  • Justin ThomasEmail author
  • Lily O’Hara
  • Susanne Quadflieg
  • Sophia Christin Weissgerber
Original Article


Western acculturation has been implicated in the development of eating disorders among populations living outside Europe and North America. This study explored the relationship between Western acculturation, in-group/out-group evaluations and eating disorders symptoms among female citizens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Emirati college women (N = 209) completed an affective priming task, designed to implicitly assess in-group (Emirati) and out-group (American) evaluations. Participants also completed the Westernization Survey, a widely used self-report measure of acculturation, and the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26). Across the whole sample, out-group positivity was correlated with higher levels of eating disorder symptoms. Participants classified as at risk for eating disorders showed a clear out-group preference (out-group positivity greater than in-group positivity). Western acculturation was also positively correlated with eating disorder symptoms. Overall, these findings lend further support to the acculturation hypothesis of eating disorders in the context of Emirati college women.


Arab Affective prime Acculturation Eating disorders Identity 


Compliance with ethical standards


This research has received no funding.

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lily O’Hara
    • 2
  • Susanne Quadflieg
    • 3
  • Sophia Christin Weissgerber
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Natural Science and Public HealthZayed UniversityAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.Emirates College for Advanced EducationAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  3. 3.University of BristolBristolUK
  4. 4.New York UniversityAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates

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