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Expected responses within interpersonal relationships among individuals with eating disorders : a cognitive-interpersonal perspective

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:45 authored by Shelley. McKeown
The current study aimed to consider the application of the cognitive-interpersonal framework (Safran, 1990a, 1990b) to further the understanding of eating disorders, by exploring interpersonal schemas of individuals with and without eating disorders. Three groups of females (non-dieters, dieters and clinical eating disorders) were recruited to participate in the study and aimed to reflect a proposed spectrum of eating distress. Individuals completed the Interpersonal Schema Questionnaire, (ISQ; Hill and Safran, 1994) which assessed expectations about how significant others would respond in certain situations. The current study employed a Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) to explore differnces in interpersonal schemas between the three groups. Results indicated that individuals with eating disorders differed from non eating-disordered individuals on the type of responses expected from significant others, the degree of complementarity within those responses and how desirable they experienced those responses. Overall, individuals with eating disorders presented with 'hostile' interpersonal schemas indicating that they expected more hostility from others in a variety of situations. Results are discussed within a cognitive-interpersonal framework (Safran, 1990a, 1990b). It appeared that individuals with eating disorders were 'stuck' in unhelpful ways of relating that were reinforced through `hostile' interpersonal schemas. It is suggested that individuals may regenerate their eating disorders through such perpetuating cognitive-interpersonal cycles. The current study strengthens the argument for the combination of cognitive and interpersonal theories to enhance the effectiveness of the assessment and treatment of eating disorders. Additionally, results invite further research on interpersonal cognition and the role of such in eating disorders.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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