Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Melanie Mills


Research has shown that members of society are generally dissatisfied with their current weight. This study examines how individuals socially construct meanings of the word diet and the dieting process. Participants (n=443) were males and females who ranged in age from 7 to 68. Each were given a diet questionnaire to complete. The older groups were given the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control (MHLC) Scale in addition to the survey. The text for analysis was obtained by the surveys and four focus groups. The resulting data indicated that both males and females perceive the word diet means "to lose weight." Thematic analysis of the transcripts disclosed three themes to be conclusive of the research: diet as a struggle, aspirations for change, and control versus obsession. This information can be compared to other studies concerning ritualistic social behavior and/or eating disorders.