Self-Discrepancy and Eating Disorder Symptoms Across Eating Disorder Diagnostic Groups

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2016 Nov;24(6):541-545. doi: 10.1002/erv.2483. Epub 2016 Sep 27.


This study examined self-discrepancy, a construct of theoretical relevance to eating disorder (ED) psychopathology, across different types of EDs. Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN; n = 112), bulimia nervosa (BN; n = 72), and binge eating disorder (BED; n = 199) completed semi-structured interviews assessing specific types of self-discrepancies. Results revealed that actual:ideal (A:I) discrepancy was positively associated with AN, actual:ought (A:O) discrepancy was positively associated with BN and BED, and self-discrepancies did not differentiate BN from BED. Across diagnoses, A:O discrepancy was positively associated with severity of purging, binge eating, and global ED psychopathology. Further, there were significant interactions between diagnosis and A:O discrepancy for global ED psychopathology and between diagnosis and A:I discrepancy for binge eating and driven exercise. These results support the importance of self-discrepancy as a potential causal and maintenance variable in EDs that differentiates among different types of EDs and symptom severity. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa; binge eating disorder; bulimia nervosa; eating disorders; self-discrepancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Eating
  • Exercise
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / classification
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychopathology*