Selective Visual Attention Towards Oneself and Associated State Body Satisfaction: an Eye-Tracking Study in Adolescents with Different Types of Eating Disorders
The development of eating disorders is associated with a body-related attentional bias. Although eating disorders are especially prevalent in adolescence, so far, no study has analyzed gaze patterns and state body image in response to viewing one’s own body in youth. To fill this gap, the present study aimed to examine a body-related attentional bias and state body satisfaction in adolescents with various forms of eating disorders. Girls with anorexia nervosa, restrictive type (AN-R; n = 30), anorexia nervosa, binge eating/purging type (AN-BP; n = 26), bulimia nervosa (BN; n = 22), clinical controls with anxiety disorders (n = 20) and healthy controls (n = 43) looked at photographs of their own and a peer’s body, while their spontaneous eye movements were recorded. After stimulus presentation, state body satisfaction and individual attractiveness ratings for areas of the presented stimuli were assessed. An analysis of variance revealed that participants of all subgroups showed an attentive preference for unattractive areas of one’s own body. Girls with AN-R attended significantly longer to unattractive body areas than both control groups and significantly shorter to attractive body areas than healthy controls. State body dissatisfaction was more prominent in all eating disorder subgroups, with significantly lower scores in BN compared to AN-R. In general, the higher the state body dissatisfaction, the stronger was the deficit orientation on one’s own body. The attentional bias towards unattractive body areas, which is most pronounced in AN-R, indicates that interventions aiming to modify distorted attention might be promising in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders in adolescence.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10802-017-0263-z