Date of Award
Theory of Mind (ToM), the ability to recognize and attribute mental states to oneself and others, has been found to be impaired in a number of different psychological disorders (Bora et al. 2009). Evaluating ToM in a population suffering from eating disorders, however, has proven less consistent; some Anorexia Nervosa patients show ToM deficits compared to healthy controls (Russell et al. 2009) and others perform similarly (Tchanturia et al. 2004). A common consensus not only seems to be lacking within the literature on ToM and Anorexia Nervosa, but within the broader family of eating disorders as well (e.g., Bulimia Nervosa; Medina-Pradas et al. 2012). Furthermore, due to a lack of research, it remains unclear how ToM relates to dysfunctional eating habits that don’t meet DSM-5 criteria for an eating disorder. The role of emotion regulation (ER) appears promising in accounting for some of these discrepancies. The current thesis hypothesized first that ToM would be correlated with higher eating disorder symptomology and second that ER would mediate the relationship between ToM abilities and eating disorder symptomology. Neither of the current hypotheses were supported. However, an exploratory analysis revealed significant relationships between the eating disorder measures used and specific subscales of the DERS (between the RS and the lack of emotional awareness/limited access to strategies subscales and between the EA and nonacceptance of emotions subscale). Implications for future research and application to treatment are discussed.
Borri, Brianna, "Disordered Eating Habits, Emotion Regulation, and Theory of Mind in Undergraduate Students" (2019). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 466.