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Keywords:

  • emotion;
  • expression;
  • anorexia nervosa;
  • eating disorders

Abstract

Objective:

To use an experimental paradigm to assess facial expression, subjective experience of emotion and the relationship between them in people with anorexia nervosa (AN).

Method:

Film clips are used to elicit emotion and participants' facial expression and subjective experience are recorded. Thirty inpatients with AN and 34 healthy control (HC) women are included in the study.

Results:

People with AN are less facially expressive than HC while watching positive and negative film clips and report feeling less positive emotion than HC but not less negative emotion. People with AN look away significantly more than HC during the negative film clip. Duration of illness and depression relate to attenuated positive facial expression and eating pathology to attenuated negative facial expression.

Discussion:

This experimental study supports self report studies showing people with AN attenuate emotional expression and avoid negative affect. Such behavior may affect social interaction and contribute to the maintenance of the disorder. © 2010 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2011)