The symptoms of problem drinking and disordered eating were studied independently in relation to sex-role traits and also for evidence of comorbidity in a student sample of 217 women. The participants completed surveys that assessed positive and negative sex-role traits, reported drinking levels, alcohol dependence, problem drinking, bulimic symptoms, dietary restraint, and drive for thinness. Eating symptoms were related to both the negative and positive traits of Femininity, but self-descriptions involving negative traits (passivity, dependence, unassertiveness, etc.) showed the strongest relationship. High scores on identification with the traits typically labelled as Masculinity were related to drinking but there was an important difference between drinking per se (which was related to Positive Masculinity) and drinking found to be associated with drinking problems, which was related to Negative Masculinity (aggression, showing-off, rudeness, etc.). Feminine traits were also related to drinking. Low identification with the traits of Negative Femininity was associated with non-problem drinking, whereas low identification with the traits of Positive Femininity were associated with problem-related drinking. Young women who displayed comorbid symptoms described themselves by a high identification with the traits of both Negative Masculinity and Negative Femininity. It was argued that comorbidity reveals a more extreme form of the sex-role conflict previously described in relation to disordered control over both eating and drinking when considered independently.
Available online 9 April 2001.
Field of Research
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology