Eating disorders and personality: a methodological and empirical review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2006 May;26(3):299-320. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2005.10.003. Epub 2005 Dec 5.


Methodological approaches utilized to evaluate models of the relationship between personality and eating disorders, as well as empirical support for each model, are reviewed. Limited prospective research suggests that negative emotionality, perfectionism, drive for thinness, poor interoceptive awareness, ineffectiveness, and obsessive-compulsive personality traits are likely predisposing factors. Limited family study research suggests that obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and anorexia nervosa share a common familial liability. Potential pathoplastic personality factors include Cluster B personality disorders and OCPD, which predict a poorer course and/or outcome, and histrionic personality traits and self-directedness, which predict a more favorable course and/or outcome. Future research should focus upon sophisticated prospective and family study research in order to best evaluate competing models of the eating disorder-personality relationship.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Empirical Research
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Risk Factors