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The influence of personal BMI on body size estimations and sensitivity to body size change in anorexia spectrum disorders

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Katri Cornelissen, Dr Martin Tovee, Dr Pier Cornelissen



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


In this cross-sectional study, we investigated the influence of personal BMI on body size estimation in 42 women who have symptoms of anorexia (referred to henceforth as anorexia spectrum disorders, ANSD), and 100 healthy controls. Low BMI control participants over-estimate their size and high BMI controls under-estimate, a pattern which is predicted by a perceptual phenomenon called contraction bias. In addition, control participants’ sensitivity to size change declines as their BMI increases as predicted by Weber’s law. The responses of women with ANSD are very different. Low BMI participants who have ANSD are extremely accurate at estimating body size and are very sensitive to changes in body size in this BMI range. However, as BMI rises in the ANSD participant group, there is a rapid increase in over-estimation concurrent with a rapid decline in sensitivity to size change. We discuss the results in the context of signal detection theory.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cornelissen KK, Bester A, Cairns P, Tovée MJ, Cornelissen PL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Body Image

Year: 2015

Volume: 13

Issue: 3

Pages: 75-85

Print publication date: 01/03/2015

Online publication date: 15/02/2015

Acceptance date: 17/01/2015

Date deposited: 22/07/2015

ISSN (print): 1740-1445

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6807

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.01.001


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