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Int J Eat Disord. 2007 May;40(4):369-80.

Attentional bias in eating disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University, Oxford, England, UK.



To examine the relationship between eating disorders and attentional biases.


The first study comprised 23 female patients with clinical eating disorders, women with high levels of anxiety (n = 19), and three female normal control groups comprising low (n = 31), moderate (n = 21), or high levels of shape concern (n = 23). The second study comprised 82 women with clinical eating disorders and 44 healthy controls. All participants completed measures of eating disorder psychopathology and completed a modified pictorial dot-probe task.


In the first study, biases were found for negative eating and neutral weight pictures, and for positive eating pictures in women with eating disorders; these biases were greater than those found in anxious and normal controls. The second study replicated these findings and biases were also found for negative and neutral shape stimuli.


It is concluded that future research should establish whether such biases warrant specific therapeutic interventions.

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