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A study using a cross-sectional survey design examined whether eating disorder (ED) related symptoms are associated with understanding one's own and others' minds. A non-clinical sample of 145 women completed self-report questionnaires and recorded their emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses to descriptions of scenarios (vignettes). Responses to scenarios were made from the perspective of self, an attachment figure and a same sex acquaintance. Data were analysed using multiple regression statistics with ED related symptoms as the dependent variable. High levels of ED related symptoms were associated with 'concretised' understanding of own emotions (i.e. a greater number of food related responses), but sophisticated understanding of same sex acquaintance's emotions. They were associated with fewer positive thoughts for self, fewer negative emotions about their own behaviour, and more food responses for same sex acquaintance's behaviour. Similarities and differences were observed in the different perspectives. Limitations are discussed. Implications for further research related to this topic and relevant to EDs are briefly summarised.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Eat Disord Rev

Publication Date





417 - 425


eating disorders, theory of mind, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Cognition, Cross-Sectional Studies, Emotions, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Psychological Theory, Surveys and Questionnaires, Young Adult