Implicit approach-avoidance tendencies toward food and body stimuli absent in individuals with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and healthy controls

Faculty/Professorship: Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy  
Author(s): Kollei, Ines  ; Leins, Judith ; Rinck, Mike; Waldorf, Manual; Kuhn, Melanie; Rauh, Elisabeth; Steins-Löber, Sabine  
Title of the Journal: The International journal of eating disorders
Publisher Information: Bamberg : Otto-Friedrich-Universität
Year of publication: 2022
Pages: 85-97
Source/Other editions: The International journal of eating disorders, 55 (2021), 1, S. 85-97 - ISSN: 1098-108X
is version of: 10.1002/eat.23638
Year of first publication: 2021
Language(s): English
Licence: Creative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0 International 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-irb-543069

Body and food-related information are thought to activate cognitive biases and contribute to the maintenance of eating disorders (ED). Approach-avoidance biases may play an important role in the maintenance of dietary restriction and excessive food intake. Therefore, the present study aimed to examine approach-avoidance biases toward food and body stimuli in individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and healthy controls (HC).


The study included 42 individuals with AN, 24 individuals with BN, and 38 HCs. We used two implicit Approach-Avoidance Tasks (AAT) to assess approach-avoidance biases: participants completed a Food-AAT (high-calorie vs. low-calorie food) and a Body-AAT (thin vs. normal weight bodies). Additionally, explicit ratings of food and body stimuli were assessed.


There were no significant Group × Stimulus × Direction interactions in the implicit Food-AAT or implicit Body-AAT. In explicit ratings, individuals with AN and BN reported less urge to eat and more regret if they ate high-calorie and low-calorie food; individuals with AN and BN rated normal weight bodies as less normal weight, less attractive and less desirable than HCs. There were no group differences in explicit ratings of the thin body.


We did not find evidence for biased approach-avoidance tendencies toward food or body stimuli in individuals with AN or BN. Future studies are necessary to understand conflicting findings regarding approach-avoidance biases toward food and body stimuli in individuals with ED.
GND Keywords: Anorexia nervosa; Bulimie; Essstörung
Keywords: anorexia nervosa, approach-avoidance, body, bulimia nervosa, food
DDC Classification: 150 Psychology  
RVK Classification: CU 3400   
Type: Article
Release Date: 11. July 2022

File SizeFormat  
fisba54306.pdf2.08 MBPDFView/Open