A meta-analysis of temperament in eating disorders

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015 Mar;23(2):89-99. doi: 10.1002/erv.2342. Epub 2014 Dec 29.


Although suggested as an important contributor to the development and maintenance of eating disorders, temperament has not previously been studied adopting a meta-analytical approach. We therefore pooled data (N = 14 studies; N = 3315 cases, N = 3395 controls) on Cloninger's temperament traits (novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence and persistence) in anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED) and eating disorders not otherwise specified. Persistence was significantly higher than in the controls in all eating disorders except for BED the highest levels being observed in AN. Correspondingly, the highest effect sizes for harm avoidance were seen in AN. Novelty seeking was significantly elevated relative to the controls only in BN. Harm avoidance was significantly lower, and reward dependence was significantly higher in individuals who had recovered from AN than in those who remained ill. Future studies with a longitudinal design are needed to explore the temporal relationships between eating disorders and temperament traits.

Keywords: eating disorders; meta-analysis; personality; temperament.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Character
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Personality*
  • Temperament*