Implicit and explicit appraisals of interpersonal relationships in the eating disorders
In the literature on eating disorders, anorexic and bulimic women have been found to have both high levels of interpersonal distrust and sociotropy (need for approval and dependency). Reflecting this contradiction, it was hypothesized that women with eating disorders would have implicit negative appraisals of positive relationship scenes and explicit positive appraisals of those same scenes. One implicit measure (Naming Task) showed both eating disorder and control groups with overall positive appraisals of positive relationship scenes (e.g., romantic date), but with one third of each group demonstrating negative implicit appraisals of positive relationship scenes. Another implicit measure (Implicit Association Test) showed positive appraisals of positive relationships and negative appraisals of negative relationships for both groups. Proposed differences in the functioning of these two measures are discussed. All subjects explicitly rated positive relationship scenes as positive. An implicit/explicit contradiction (as measured by the Naming Task and picture ratings) in the eating disordered group was associated with social insecurity, sociotropy and eating disorder symptoms (as measured by the Eating Disorders Inventory 2). A picture viewing paradigm provided support for automatic avoidant coping in response to negative relationship scenes (e.g., argument) in anorexic and bulimic women. Results from self-report showed eating disordered women using less task-focused and more emotion-focused coping. Findings from picture ratings of positive and negative relationship scenes demonstrated a negative interpersonal bias for eating disordered women. The clinical group rated positive relationships scenes lower on positive emotion, higher on negative emotion and less tolerable/controllable than the control group. Eating disordered women also rated negative relationship scenes higher on negative emotion and less tolerable/controllable than the control group. These findings support and extend the hypothesis that eating disordered women are hypersensitive to normative relationship stressors. Eating disordered women scored higher on measures of sociotropy, autonomy and alexithymia. A hierarchical multiple regression employing ratings of positive relationship scenes, autonomy, sociotropy and alexithymia accounted for more than two thirds of the variance associated with a variable covering a broad range of eating disorder features (i.e., Eating Disorder Inventory 2 plus Dietary Restraint Scale) and more than half of the variance associated with a variable consisting solely of clinical features of eating disorders (i.e., Drive for Thinness, Bulimic Symptoms, Body Dissatisfaction and Dietary Restraint).
McKiernan, Kevin, "Implicit and explicit appraisals of interpersonal relationships in the eating disorders" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3169390.