Social cognition in eating disorders: Encoding and representational processes in binging and purging patients



Objective: The present study investigates social cognition impairments in 29 women with bingeing/purging spectrum eating disorders (ED) compared to 27 healthy controls.

Method: Measures were used to examine encoding and representational processes in relation to affect perception and affect attribution, as well as the ability to recognize mental causality in social relationships.

Results: ED patients failed to correctly encode causality in interpersonal relations, exhibited deficits in their ability to ascribe behaviour to mental states, and showed a greater tendency to attribute negative affects in interpersonal relationships. Stepwise regression analyses suggested that ED symptoms could account for deficits in the recognition of causality in interpersonal relations.

Conclusions: In addition to addressing ED symptoms, social cognition deficits should be addressed in the psychological treatment of EDs. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.