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A new cognitive bias modification technique to influence risk factors for eating disorders

Matheson, Emily; Wade, Tracey; Yiend, Jenny


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Dr Emily Matheson
Senior Research Fellow (Centre for Appearance Research)

Tracey Wade

Jenny Yiend


© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Objective: Eating disorder psychopathology is associated with a propensity to interpret ambiguous stimuli to be negatively related to one's appearance and self-worth. The relative impact of modifying interpretation bias for these respective stimuli is unknown. Hence the main aim of the current study was to compare two cognitive bias modification protocols targeting interpretation bias (CBM-I), one focused on appearance and the other on self-worth, in terms of impacting interpretation bias, body dissatisfaction and negative affect. The appearance-based CBM-I protocol was developed for the current study. Method: Female university students (N = 123) were randomized into one of three CBM-I conditions: appearance, self-worth or control. Immediately following a negative induction that significantly increased body dissatisfaction and negative affect, participants underwent their respective CBM-I training. Results: The CBM-I for appearance produced significant changes in the targeted bias, as well as significant improvements (moderate effect sizes) in appearance satisfaction, relative to the CBM-I for self-worth and control conditions. Discussion: The results support the usefulness of the CBM-I for appearance protocol, and suggests that this technique warrants further investigation with respect to modifying interpretation bias and risk factors associated with eating disorder psychopathology. Null effects of CBM-I for self-worth should be interpreted in light of study limitations, including the potential unsuitability of training material for young women. CBM-I for both types of interpretation bias should be evaluated in future research.


Matheson, E., Wade, T., & Yiend, J. (2018). A new cognitive bias modification technique to influence risk factors for eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 51(8), 959-967.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 17, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 6, 2018
Publication Date Aug 1, 2018
Deposit Date May 20, 2019
Journal International Journal of Eating Disorders
Print ISSN 0276-3478
Electronic ISSN 1098-108X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 51
Issue 8
Pages 959-967
Keywords appearance, body dissatisfaction, cognitive bias modification, interpretation bias, body image
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