The relationship between alexithymia and maladaptive perfectionism in eating disorders: a mediation moderation analysis methodology

Eat Weight Disord. 2011 Sep;16(3):e182-7. doi: 10.1007/BF03325130.


Objective: This work aimed to explore the relationship between alexithymia and maladaptive perfectionism in the psychological process leading to eating disorders (ED).

Method: Forty-nine individuals with ED and 49 controls completed the Concern over Mistakes subscale of the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, the Perfectionism subscale of the Eating Disorders Inventory, the total score of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, and the Drive for Thinness, Bulimia, and Body Dissatisfaction subscales of the Eating Disorders Inventory. We tested a model in which alexythimia is the independent variable and perfectionism is the possible mediator or moderator.

Results: Analyses confirmed the assumed model. In addition, it emerged that perfectionism played a mediating or moderating role when measured by different instruments. This result suggested that different instruments measured subtly different aspects of the same construct.

Discussion: Results could suggest that alexithymia is a predisposing factor for perfectionism, which in turn may lead to the development of eating disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Concept*