Intuitive Heuristics Linking Perfectionism, Control, and Beliefs Regarding Body Shape in Eating Disorders

Abstract

A number of correlational studies have established a clear association between perfectionism, control and beliefs regarding body shape in eating disorders (EDs). The aim of this study is to test the effectiveness of the above- mentioned associations in exploring the presence of intuitive heuristics. Intuitive heuristics can be conceived as as mental shortcuts, cognitive processes that are highly susceptible to irrational biases. Forty one non clinical female controls and 27 in-patient females with an ED diagnosis participated in an experimental task that tested whether participants would show an intuitive rather than a logically based link between perfectionism in different domains (study, work, hygiene) and a thin body shape. In the healthy female participants the occurrence of proposed link was noted in the hygiene domain only, while ED participants showed this intuitive association in all the domains explored: study, work, and hygiene. The study confirms in clinical ED sample a wider employment of heuristics associating perfectionism and thinness that is based on purely intuitive irrational reasoning.

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This work is not supported by any grant or financial or other close relationship with an organization. The research is financed by the institutions where the authors work.

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Correspondence to Giovanni Maria Ruggiero.

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Confalonieri, L., Sassaroli, S., Alighieri, S. et al. Intuitive Heuristics Linking Perfectionism, Control, and Beliefs Regarding Body Shape in Eating Disorders. Psychol Stud 58, 265–275 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12646-013-0200-3

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Keywords

  • Body shape
  • Eating disorders
  • Heuristics
  • Perfectionism