Motivations for dieting: Drive for thinness is different from drive for objective thinness

Yelena Chernyak, Michael R. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-281
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Dieting
  • Drive for thinness
  • Motivation
  • Restrained eating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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