Studie: Body image related negative interpretation bias in anorexia nervosa

Behaviour Research and Therapy – Volume 104, May 2018, Pages 69-73; DOI:10.1016/j.brat.2018.03.003
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Timo Brockmeyer, Alisa Anderle, Hagen Febry (geb. Schmidt), Stephanie Febry, Wally Wünsch-Leiteritz, Andreas Leiteritz, Hans-Christoph Friederich

Abstract

A distorted body image and pronounced body dissatisfaction are hallmarks of anorexia nervosa (AN) that typically result in dietary restraint and compensatory behaviours. Cognitive biases such as negative interpretation bias are considered key maintaining factors of these maladaptive cognitions and behaviours. However, little attention has been paid to empirical tests whether negative interpretation bias exists in AN and to what degree it is associated with symptom severity. Participants in the present study were 40 women with AN and 40 healthy women with no history of an eating disorder. Body-related negative interpretation bias (i.e., a tendency to interpret ambiguous information about the own body in a negative way) was measured by a Scrambled Sentences Task. Patients with AN showed a stronger body-related negative interpretation bias than healthy controls. Within both groups, negative interpretation bias correlated strongly and positively with AN symptom severity and these effects were not moderated by levels of depressive symptoms. The findings support the idea that biased interpretation of body-related information is associated with the specific psychopathology of AN. Targeted, computerised interventions (e.g. interpretation bias modification) may help to alter these dysfunctional cognitive schemas that lie at the heart of AN.