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Appetite. 2007 May;48(3):289-300. Epub 2007 Jan 22.

College students' mental models for recognizing anorexia and bulimia nervosa.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 238 Burnett Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0308, USA.


Knowledge about eating disorders influences lay people's ability to recognize individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) and refer them to professional treatment. We assessed mental models (stored knowledge) of AN and BN in 106 college students. Results indicated that most students have general, but not specific, information about AN and BN's symptoms, consequences, causes, duration, and cures. They also believe that people with eating disorders tend to be young, White women. These findings suggest that lay recognition of eating disorders may be based primarily on observations of dysfunctional eating behaviors and therefore facilitated by additional knowledge.

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