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OBJECTIVE: Clinical accounts and previous evidence suggest that socio-emotional impairments may be present in people with bulimia nervosa (BN). The aim of this paper was to systematically review studies of social cognition, and to evaluate whether social cognitive deficits exist in BN. METHOD: Keywords were identified using an existing model of social cognition (Green et al., 2007) [16], and used to search for relevant papers in three online databases. Records were then screened according to a priori inclusion/exclusion criteria. RESULTS: Five papers reporting seven social cognition tasks were identified as pertinent to the review. All involved either theory of mind ability or emotional processing skills. Participants with BN had impaired performance on the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale and showed greater attentional bias than controls on an emotional Stroop task. There were no overall group differences for any other tasks, although there were small differences for some specific test items. CONCLUSIONS: Basic social cognition does not appear to be impaired in people with BN. Future research should make use of more complex, ecologically valid measures, and consider the relationship between task performance and everyday social functioning.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Psychiatry

Publication Date





1 - 6


Attention, Awareness, Bulimia Nervosa, Cognition, Emotions, Humans, Social Behavior, Social Perception, Theory of Mind