Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Psychology (Masters)

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 63 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Drew A Anderson

Committee Members

James F Boswell


Eating disorders, Motivation, Pathological exercise, Exercise addiction, Motivation (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Exercise can serve adaptive and maladaptive functions among individuals with elevated eating disorder (ED) pathology; however, little is known about how best to distinguish healthy and problematic exercise within this population. The present study aimed to inform this distinction by examining associations between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for exercise, problematic exercise, and ED pathology in a sample of undergraduate students (N=347, 70% female) with threshold or sub-threshold EDs. All participants completed the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), the Exercise Motivation Inventory-2 (EMI-2), the Compulsive Exercise Test (CET), and the Exercise Dependence Scale (EDS). Preliminary exploratory factor analysis of the EMI-2 revealed a ten-factor structure consisting of distinct extrinsic and intrinsic motives for exercise. Additionally, we conducted three separate multiple regression analyses to examine associations between exercise motives and compulsive exercise, exercise dependence, and ED pathology. In each model, extrinsic motives for exercise (e.g., social recognition) were associated with more severe exercise and ED pathology and intrinsic motives (e.g., prevention of health problems) were associated with less pathology. Interestingly, exercising for psychological benefits was associated with greater compulsive exercise and exercise dependence. Findings from this study suggest intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for exercise are differentially associated with exercise and eating pathology and can inform the distinction between problematic and healthy exercise among individuals with ED pathology.