Motivation to change in eating disorder patients: A conceptual clarification on the basis of self-determination theory




The current study critically reviews the different motivational frameworks that are applied in the study of eating disorders and provides a more comprehensive conceptualization of motivation to change on the basis of self-determination theory.


The most important conceptualizations of motivation to change among eating disorder patients are identified.


Eating disorder patients' motivation to change has been defined very differently, adding confusion to the field and preventing research from being cumulative. On the basis of self-determination theory we argue (a) that the quality of motivation to change is primarily reflected in the degree of internalization of change rather than by the intrinsic motivation to change; (b) that the internalization of change suggests more than only the change being initiated from within the person (internal motivation) for it requires an acceptance of the personal importance of change; and (c) that, in addition to its quality, the quantity of motivation to change should be considered too.


These three conceptual issues are applied to the study of motivational dynamics in eating-disordered patients. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.