Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

F. Richard Ferraro


Exercise is often regarded as a staple of a healthy lifestyle. Working out in excess, though, can easily become detrimental to an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. Physical activity that is carried out in a compulsive and regimented manner, even when it may interfere with daily life or physical health, is referred to as exercise dependency. While not it’s own mental disorder, it has often been described as a secondary disorder in tandem with an eating disorder, and can be identified using the same criteria as one would use to diagnose Substance Use Disorder. The paradoxical nature of an addiction to a positive activity has led to many gaps in research on the topic. The gap addressed in the current study is that of the effect that a college student’s participation in a Fraternity or Sorority, collectively referred to as Greek Life, on one’s development of exercise dependence. Previous studies of Greek Life members has suggested higher occurrence of eating disorders and distorted body image than non-involved college students, both of which are associated with development of exercise dependence. The current study examined the relationship between Greek Life Membership and exercise dependency using scores from the Exercise Dependence Scale (ESD-21), Reasons for Exercise Inventory (REI), And Eating Attitudes Test (EAT). It was hypothesized that members of fraternities and sororities will score higher on measure of exercise dependency and disordered eating than those who do not participate in Greek life, and there would be a significant interaction between exercise dependence and disordered eating. It was also hypothesized that members of Greek life would score higher on the weight/appearance management and social factors of the Reasons for Exercise Inventory than non-members.

An analysis of hypothesis 1 showed that while there were significant main effects of Greek life and gender on measures of exercise dependency and disordered eating, there was no significant reaction. Males had significantly higher scores on the tolerance, lack of control, reduction in other activities, and time subscales of the of the Exercise Dependence Scale, as well as overall EDS scores. Females had significantly higher scores on the Eating Attitudes Test. Greek life members had significantly higher scores on the overall score of the EDS, as well as all seven subscales: withdrawal effects, continuance, tolerance, lack of control, reduction in other activities, time, and intention effects.Analysis of hypothesis 2 revealed that there were insignificant results analyzing the effect of Greek life membership on the Reasons for exercise Inventory.Follow-up ANOVAs showed that Greek life members had significantly higher scores on the overall Reasons for Exercise Inventory, as well as the Fitness and Health Management and Stress and Mood Management subscales. There were not significant effects of Greek life membership on the Appearance and Weight Management or Social Reasons subscales.