Negative Emotionality, Negative Urgency, and Eating Disorder Psychopathology: Mediation in Women with and Without Binge Eating
Magel, C. A. & von Ranson, K. M.
Although negative emotionality (NE) and negative urgency (NU) are risk factors for binge eating, it is unknown how these traits may interact to increase risk for clinical levels of binge eating. We examined a model of cross-sectional associations among levels of NE, NU, and eating disorder psychopathology (i.e., eating, shape, and weight concerns, and restraint) in a community sample of 68 women with binge-eating disorder or bulimia nervosa and 75 control women with no eating disorder history. Participants completed semi-structured diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires measuring NE, NU, eating disorder psychopathology, and anxiety and depression symptoms. After controlling for anxiety and depression symptoms and body mass index, women with binge eating reported higher levels of negative urgency and eating disorder psychopathology than control women with no history of eating disorders, whereas there was no difference in levels of negative emotionality between the two groups. There was an indirect effect of negative emotionality on eating disorder psychopathology via negative urgency. Group membership did not moderate this association. Our findings support a model in which a tendency toward negative emotionality, coupled with a tendency to engage in rash action when experiencing negative emotions, is associated with eating disorder psychopathology in women with and without eating disorders characterized by binge eating.
Manuscript in progress
Does a cognitive dissonance-based eating disorder prevention intervention reduce attentional biases in body-dissatisfied women?: A cluster-randomized controlled trial
Tobin, L. N., von Ranson, K. M., & Sears, C. R. (Dissertation)
Previous research has demonstrated that cognitive dissonance-based interventions are the most effective targeted body image interventions to date for girls and young women. However, the effects of these interventions on attentional biases related to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders have yet to be explored.
The purpose of this study is to examine whether an evidence-based cognitive dissonance eating disorders prevention intervention called The Body Project, (Stice, Rohde, et al., 2013), can reduce attentional biases for weight-related information in body dissatisfied women. We also aim to: replicate findings of the intervention’s effects on body dissatisfaction, eating disorder psychopathology, and thin-ideal internalization; extend findings of its effects on body appreciation to a university student sample; and explore its effects on weight bias. We are currently recruiting and testing participants to participate in either intervention or control conditions. Eye-tracking assessments of attention, along with self-report measures are administered pre- and post-intervention, and self-report measures at one-month follow-up.
If the Body Project is found to reduce attentional biases related to body dissatisfaction, it would suggest an important potential mechanism of change through which the intervention has its effects, and we can have greater confidence that cognitive processes and not just self-perceptions indicated via questionnaires have changed as a result of the intervention. Additionally, examination of the effects of the intervention on the various measures described may provide further support for the generalizability of the intervention’s effects.
Manuscript in progress
Body Image and Eating Behaviours in Fashion Industry Students and Professionals
Tsoumpas, H., Lacroix, E., & von Ranson, K.M.
People who work and study in the fashion industry may be at high risk for developing negative body image and eating disorders due to a clustering of important risk factors. However, very little research has studied this population, with participant samples limited to fashion models, rather than other industry professionals. This study will use an online survey to examine body image, weight bias, and eating behaviour in a sample of fashion program students. Participants will be recruited from several universities and colleges across Canada, and will fill out an online survey. Studying body image and eating concerns among fashion students represents a critical step in tackling the issue of body image in the fashion industry. If body image and disordered eating are found to be elevated among fashion students, future research could focus on the development of workshops designed to foster more positive body image and increase eating disorder awareness in this population.
Manuscript in progress
Conceptualizing addictive-like eating: A qualitative analysis
Paterson, C., Lacroix, E., & von Ranson, K. M.
Debates regarding addictive-like eating have generated several conceptualizations of this construct. Qualitative research helps ensure that conceptualizations capture how individuals may experience addictive-like eating. In this study, we conducted semi-structured interviews with ten participants who identified themselves as addicted to food, or to food and eating, to determine how they conceptualized their addictive-like eating. Using thematic analysis, we identified four themes: (1) Social Environment, describing how past and present social environments affected addictive-like eating; (2) Situational Cues, encompassing situational contributions to addictive-like eating; (3) Persistent Cognitions, including preoccupation with food and loss of control; and (4) Impact of Weight, encompassing weight gain and its perceived impact on health, body image, and distress. Participants described properties specific to their preferred foods, as well as environmental and cognitive factors contributing to addictive-like eating. These descriptions were not completely captured by either the substance-based “food addiction” or behavioural “eating addiction” frameworks, though characteristics consistent with both were present. Further, existing scales of addictive-like eating do not assess the impact of social and situational cues, suggesting a need for new or revised measures. We propose a working definition of addictive-like eating that incorporates the characteristics described.
Paterson, C., Lacroix, E., & von Ranson, K. M. (2019). Conceptualizing addictive-like eating: A qualitative analysis. Appetite, 141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104326
How malleable are attentional biases in women with body dissatisfaction? Priming effects and their impact on attention to images of women’s bodies
Withnell, S., Sears, C., & von Ranson, K.
The purpose of this study was to clarify the relationship between body satisfaction and attention by comparing attention to body-related images in undergraduate women with high versus low body satisfaction, before and after priming body satisfaction or body dissatisfaction. Participants were 17 women with high body satisfaction and 27 women with low body satisfaction. To prime body dissatisfaction or satisfaction, participants watched a video and wrote about what they disliked or liked, respectively, about their body. Eye gaze tracking was used to compare participants’ attention to body-related and neutral images before and after priming.
We predicted that women with low body satisfaction would show a bias in preferentially attending to body-related images compared to women with high body satisfaction, and that this bias would increase following a body dissatisfaction prime and decrease following a body satisfaction prime. Further, we predicted that the attentional patterns of women with high body satisfaction would show no changes after priming.
Results indicated that women with low body satisfaction spent more time looking at body-related images compared to women with high body satisfaction. Although priming was effective in increasing or decreasing self-reported body satisfaction for women with low body satisfaction, there was no change in their attention to body-related images. By contrast, both the body satisfaction and body dissatisfaction primes increased attention to body-related images among women with high body satisfaction. These findings have implications for how body image interventions can best address the role of attention in reducing body dissatisfaction.
Withnell, S., Sears, C. R., & von Ranson, K. M. (2019). How malleable are attentional biases in women with body dissatisfaction? Priming effects and their impact on attention to images of women’s bodies. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/2043808719837137
Greater body appreciation moderates the Association between maladative attentional biases and body dissatisfaction in undergraduate women
Tobin, L. N., Barron, A., Sears, C. R., & von Ranson, K. M.
Attentional biases for weight-related information are thought to contribute to maintenance of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Women with greater body appreciation may pay less attention to thin-ideal cues if body appreciation protects them from negative effects of thin-ideal media, and if so, they may be less susceptible to development of maladaptive attentional biases. The present study used eye-gaze tracking to measure attention to weight-related words/images in 167 body-dissatisfied undergraduate women (aged 17–39 years) to examine the associations among body dissatisfaction, body appreciation, and attentional biases. Participants viewed displays of thin-related, fat-related, and neutral words/images while their eye fixations were tracked over 8-s intervals. We hypothesized body appreciation (as measured by the Body Appreciation Scale) would moderate the documented association between body dissatisfaction and attentional biases for thin-related information only, such that as body appreciation increased, the strength of the relationship between body dissatisfaction and attentional biases would decrease. Results indicated that body appreciation moderated the association between body dissatisfaction and attentional biases for thin-related words only. With low body appreciation, body dissatisfaction was positively associated with attention to thin-related words. With high body appreciation, there was an inverse association between body dissatisfaction and attention to thin-related words. Results suggest that body appreciation may be an effective prevention target for reducing maladaptive attentional biases.
Tobin, L. N., Barron, A., Sears, C. R., & von Ranson, K. M. (2019). Greater body appreciation moderates the association between maladaptive attentional biases and body dissatisfaction in undergraduate women. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/2043808719838937
"There is no way to avoid the first bite": A qualitative investigation of addictive-like eating in treatment-seeking Brazilian women and men.
Lacroix, E., Oliveira, E., Saldanha de Castro, J., Cabral, J.R., Tavares, H., & von Ranson, K.M.
There has been considerable debate surrounding the idea that food and eating can be addictive. Research suggests that certain eating patterns may share characteristics with addictive disorders such as substance use disorders and pathological gambling. To improve our understanding of how people define and experience addiction-like eating, several qualitative interview studies have been performed. However, because all qualitative interview studies to date have been conducted in Anglo-Saxon nations, it is unknown to what extent current conceptualizations of addiction-like eating apply across cultures. The purpose of this study is to explore how Brazilian adults seeking treatment for food addiction describe and experience addiction-like eating. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with 15 adults seeking treatment for food addiction at a university hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. We will identify themes that appear across these interviews, in order to better understand how individuals experience and define addiction-like eating. This research has been supported by a Mitacs Globalink Research Award.
Lacroix, E., Oliveira, E., Saldhana de Castro, J., Cabral, J. R., Tavares, H., & von Ranson, K. M. (2019). “There is no way to avoid the first bite”: A qualitative investigation of addictive-like eating in treatment-seeking Brazilian women and men. Appetite, 137(1), 35-46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.02.008
Factor structure and construct validity of the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire: Further support for a three-factor model
Tobin, L. N., Lacroix, E., & von Ranson, K. M.
The Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q) is a widely-used self-report eating disorder psychopathology measure. Although there is support for the EDE-Q’s convergent validity with the EDE interview, several studies have failed to replicate the original four-factor structure of the EDE-Q. Preliminary evidence suggests an abbreviated three-factor version of the EDE-Q may be useful. However, samples are limited and there are inconsistent findings regarding this three-factor structure’s convergent validity with other measures of body dissatisfaction.
This study examined the factor structure and other psychometric properties of the two EDE-Q factor structures in three samples of majority non-overweight adults: 659 university women, 358 university men and women, and 544 crowdsourced adults. All participants completed the EDE-Q online. Additionally, the university women also completed concurrent measures of body dissatisfaction and mass, which were used to examine the convergent and discriminant validities of the three-factor structure in this sample. Results demonstrated that the three-factor structure showed improved model fit statistics, internal consistencies, and interscale correlational patterns across all three samples. The three-factor structure also demonstrated improved convergent and discriminant validity compared to the four-factor structure in the university women sample.
These psychometric findings provide further support for the validity of the abbreviated, three-factor version of the EDE-Q among students and crowdsourced adults. Results highlight the conceptual overlap in the four-factor structure’s Weight Concern and Shape Concern subscales, as well as the value of the newly added Shape/Weight Overvaluation subscale of the three-factor structure. Implications also include that the abbreviated three-factor structure could be used as a short form of the EDE-Q, allowing for reduced administration time.
Tobin, L. N., Lacroix, E., & von Ranson, K. M. (2019). Evaluating an abbreviated three-factor structure of the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire in three samples. Eating Behaviors, 32, 18-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2018.11.003
Moving beyond the ‘eating addiction’ versus ‘food addiction’ debate: Comment on Schulte et al. (2017).
Lacroix, E., Tavares, H., & von Ranson, K.M.
In a recent commentary, Schulte et al. (2017) argued that addictive-like eating should be conceptualized as a substance use disorder rather than a behavioural addiction, and noted that many parallels that Hebebrand et al. (2014) drew between addictive-like eating and behavioural addictions apply likewise to substance use disorders. However, we argue that many of the arguments advanced by Schulte et al. (2017) in support of a substance-based food addiction model, including the important role played by ingested substances, are nonspecific. That is, these arguments apply equally well to behavioural addictions and other mental disorders, notably eating disorders, which raises the question of whether the phenomenon of addictive-like eating is encompassed by existing eating disorder diagnoses. Similarities between addictive-like eating and substance use, no matter how compelling, do not ensure the validity or clinical utility of a substance-based food addiction model and should not drive the conceptualization of addictive-like eating. The present commentary discusses problems with Schulte et al.’s (2017) arguments for substance-based food addiction, and draws attention to alternative conceptualizations of addictive-like eating which risk being overlooked when this conversation is framed as a dichotomous debate between the food and eating addiction models.
Lacroix, E., Tavares, H., & von Ranson, K.M. (2018). Moving beyond the ‘eating addiction’ versus ‘food addiction’ debate: Comment on Schulte et al. (2017). Appetite, 130, 286-292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.06.025
The need to consume: Hoarding as a shared psychological feature of compulsive buying and binge eating.
Nicoli de Mattos, C., Kim, H.S., Lacroix, E., Filomensky, T.Z., Hodgins, D.C., & Tavares, H.
Compulsive buying and binge eating are two frequently co-occurring psychiatric conditions. Hoarding, which is the psychological need to excessively gather and store items, is frequently associated with both compulsive buying severity and binge eating severity. In the present study, we explored whether different dimensions of hoarding are a shared feature of compulsive buying and binge eating.
Participants consisted of 434 people seeking treatment for compulsive buying disorder. Registered psychiatrists confirmed the diagnosis of compulsive buying through semi-structured clinical interviews. Participants also completed measures to assess compulsive buying severity, binge eating severity, and dimensions of hoarding (acquisition, difficulty discarding, and clutter). Two-hundred and seven participants completed all three measures.
Significant correlations were found between compulsive buying severity and the acquisition dimension of hoarding. Binge eating severity was significantly correlated with all three dimensions of hoarding. Hierarchical regression analysis found that compulsive buying severity was a significant predictor of binge eating severity. However, compulsive buying severity no longer predicted binge eating severity when the dimensions of hoarding were included simultaneously in the model. Clutter was the only subscale of hoarding to predict binge eating severity in step two of the regression analysis.
Our results suggest that the psychological need to excessively gather and store items may constitute a shared process that is important in understanding behaviors characterized by excessive consumption such as compulsive buying and binge eating.
Nicoli de Mattos, C., Kim, H.S., Lacroix, E., Filomensky, T.Z., Hodgins, D.C., & Tavares, H. (2018). The need to consume: Hoarding as a shared psychological feature of compulsive buying and binge eating.Comprehensive Psychiatry, 85, 67-71. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2018.06.010
Weight bias: A systematic review of characteristics and psychometric properties of self-report questionnaires
Lacroix, E., Alberga, A.S., Russell-Mayhew, S., McLaren, L., & von Ranson, K.M.
People living with overweight and obesity often experience weight bias (i.e., weight-based stigmatization). To effectively study and target weight bias, research depends on sound measurement. Many questionnaires exist to measure weight bias, however, these questionnaires have not yet been summarized or evaluated. To inform future research, we conducted a systematic review to identify and evaluate self-report weight bias questionnaires. Our systematic review identified 40 original questionnaires. We describe the characteristics and rate the quality of these questionnaires, and provide recommendations for clinicians and researchers in selecting measures of weight bias for various purposes and populations, such as adolescents and healthcare professionals.
Lacroix, E., Alberga, A., Mayhew, S., McLaren, L., & von Ranson, K.M. (2017). Weight bias: A systematic review of characteristics and psychometric properties of self-report questionnaires. Obesity Facts, 10(3), 223-237. https://doi.org/10.1159/000475716 or https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/475716
Scope and ethics of psychologists’ use of client testimonials on professional websites
Lacroix, E., Dobson, K., S., & von Ranson, K.M.
Testimonials are statements on behalf of psychotherapy clients that comment on the abilities, qualifications, or personal characteristics of a psychologist, or the outcomes experienced after therapy. Third-party provider rating websites, such as RateMDs.com, represent another avenue for client testimonials. Although the use of client testimonials is prohibited in most Canadian jurisdictions, some psychologists’ may still display client testimonials on their websites or link to third-party rating websites. It is unknown how common this practice is. This study examined how often testimonials appeared on the websites of psychologists registered in five Canadian provinces. We also discuss ethical guidelines and issues surrounding testimonial use. Of the sampled websites, 4.2% included client testimonials, 1.2% solicited testimonials, and 1.4% included links to third-party provider-rating websites. Nearly 40% of the testimonials appearing on websites contained information that could be used to identify clients. Testimonials are a biased source of information, have the potential to cause social repercussions for clients, and could lead to conflicts of interest for psychologists. In light of these potential harms, we recommend greater action from psychology regulatory bodies to curb the use of testimonials.
Lacroix, E., Dobson, K., & von Ranson, K.M. (2017). Scope and ethics of psychologists’ use of client testimonials on professional websites. Canadian Psychology. doi:10.1037/cap0000123
Lacroix, E., Dobson, K., & von Ranson, K.M. (2017). Client Testimonials and Third-Party Rating Websites. College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP) Monitor, 52, 14-15. Available at https://www.cap.ab.ca/Regulatory-Information/CAP-Monitor
Examining the short-term longitudinal relationships between emotion regulation and addictive behaviors among community women
Farstad, S., & von Ranson, K. (Dissertation)
The purpose of this research was to compare difficulties with emotion regulation that women experience that are associated with binge eating, food addiction, problem gambling, and substance abuse. Our goal was to identify similarities and differences between eating pathology and addictions (i.e., gambling, alcohol and drug abuse). Participants in two studies were 202 women from the community who engaged in at-risk binge eating (39%), at-risk gambling (18%), or both behaviors (43%). Participants completed online assessments every two months for six months. In the first study, we found that both binge eating and problem gambling were associated with general problems with emotion regulation, but had different relationships to behaving impulsively when experiencing strong positive emotions. In the second study, we found that food addiction and substance abuse were both associated with a tendency to behave impulsively when experiencing strong negative emotions. However, we also found differences in the emotion regulation problems that were associated with food addiction compared to substance abuse. Overall, we concluded that binge eating and food addiction were associated with different patterns of emotion regulation problems than addictions.
Manuscript under review
Weight bias in Canada
Singh, K., Russell-Mayhew, S., McLaren, L., & von Ranson, K.
Weight bias (i.e., discrimination toward individuals of heavier weights) is an understudied issue in Canada. We are undertaking a series of studies to improve our understanding of weight bias in Canada. Its prevalence in Canada is unknown. It is important to establish how widespread the problem is in the first instance in order to better contextualize the problem of weight bias in a Canadian setting. Our work is helping to understand the prevalence of weight bias in Canada as an important first step in understanding how to move research forward in this important area.
Relatedly, we know very little about how weight bias is related to visible minorities. The majority of research in Canada (and in other countries) has largely relied on Caucasian samples. As such, little knowledge is available regarding how visible minorities experience weight bias, in which contexts, how it differs from Caucasian individuals etc. A second part of our research focuses on understanding these and other issues related to weight bias in visible minorities in Canada.
We are also conducting a systematic literature review to better understand which measures of body image are currently available for use by researchers. We hope that this may inform future studies on which measures are suitable for use when measuring and evaluating concerns related to body image and shape. This review will inform future research exploring possible relationships of weight bias with health anxiety (i.e., hypochondriasis).
Manuscript in progress
Attention to fat- and thin-related stimuli in body-satisfied and body-dissatisfied women before and after thin-model priming
Tobin, L., Sears, C., Zumbusch, A. S., & von Ranson, K. M.
Previous research has suggested that body-dissatisfied women process weight-related information differently than body-satisfied women, but the precise nature of these processing differences (or biases) is unclear. In addition to having implications for theory about how eating disorders develop and are maintained, understanding cognitive processes underlying body dissatisfaction provides important information on the development and perpetuation of eating pathology.
This study examined attention to weight-related words in 42 body-dissatisfied and 40 body-satisfied women prior to and after exposure to images of thin fashion models. Eye-gaze tracking was used to measure attention to fat-related, thin-related, and neutral words throughout an 8-second presentation. We predicted that body-dissatisfied women would attend to fat-related words more than body-satisfied women, and would attend to thin-related words less than body-satisfied women. We also predicted that exposure to thin model images would increase self-reported body dissatisfaction and heighten the predicted differences in attention. Results showed that body-dissatisfied women attended to both fat-related words and thin-related words more than body-satisfied women. Results also showed that exposure to thin models did not increase this effect.
In addition to informing theory in eating disorder development, the finding that body-dissatisfied women attend to both types of weight-related information has implications for treatment of body dissatisfaction and eating disorder prevention. For example, these information-processing details for body-dissatisfied women who are at risk for developing an eating disorder can inform cognitive-behavioural and attentional bias modification approaches to prevention and treatment.
Tobin, L., Sears, C. R., Zumbusch, A., & von Ranson, K. M. (2018). Attention to fat- and thin-related stimuli in body-satisfied and body-dissatisfied women before and after thin-model priming. PLoS ONE 13(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192914
Developing and evaluating a measure of eating addiction
King-Hope, M. & von Ranson, K.M. (Honours Thesis)
There has been much discussion on whether or not “food addiction” exists and if it does, by what mechanisms it works. One theory is that food addiction is a substance addiction, that certain foods in themselves are addictive such as fat, salt and sugar. However, studies testing this theory have so far been inconclusive. Another theory is that food addiction is a behavioural addiction, that the act of eating in itself is addictive. This theory has only been proposed recently, and as such no instruments are currently available to test this theory. We aimed to create a questionnaire that could be used to assess food addiction as a behavioural (eating) addiction, and compare it to existing measures of food addiction and disordered eating. We devised a 61-item questionnaire called the Eating Addiction Questionnaire (EAQ) that was administered to 601 undergraduate students.
Results showed that this questionnaire had excellent internal consistency, good convergent validity, and good discriminant validity. The questionnaire appears to be assessing a construct that overlaps with the substance addiction theory of food addiction; however, eating addiction as measured by the EAQ was found to be distinct from food addiction as evaluated by the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS).
Manuscript in Progress
A sad mood increases attention to unhealthy food images in women with food addiction
Frayn, M., Sears, C., & von Ranson, K.M. (Honours Thesis)
This research involved measuring attention to healthy and unhealthy food images in participants with and without food addiction symptoms, and the effects of a sad mood induction on attention to those images.
The research hypothesis was twofold: that those with food addiction would attend to unhealthy images of food more than participants in the control group, and that those with food addiction would increase their attention to unhealthy food in response to a sad mood induction when compared to the control group. The reasoning for this is that unhealthy food is postulated to be more addictive and rewarding and therefore draws more attention from those addicted to food.
The results showed that, following a sad mood induction, participants with food addiction increased their attention to unhealthy food images and decreased their attention to healthy food images. By contrast, participants in the control group were largely unaffected by the sad mood induction. These results have implications for furthering our understanding of cognitive processes involved in those who report feeling addicted to food.
Frayn, M., Sears, C.R., von Ranson, K.M. (2016). A sad mood increases attention to unhealthy food images in women with food addiction. Appetite, 100, 55-63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.02.008
The influence of impulsiveness on binge eating and problem gambling: A prospective study of gender differences in Canadian adults
Farstad, S. M., von Ranson, K. M., Hodgins, D. C., El-Guebaly, N., Casey, D. M., & Schopflocher, D. P.(M.Sc. Thesis)
This study investigated the degree to which facets of impulsiveness predicted future binge eating and problem gambling, two theorized forms of behavioral addiction. Participants were 596 women and 406 men from 4 age cohorts randomly recruited from a Canadian province. We found evidence of transdiagnostic and disorder-specific predictors of binge eating and problem gambling. Negative urgency emerged as a common predictor of binge eating and problem gambling among women and men. There were disorder-specific personality traits identified among men only: High lack-of-persistence scores predicted binge eating and high sensation-seeking scores predicted problem gambling. Among women, younger age predicted binge eating and older age predicted problem gambling. Thus, there are gender differences in facets of impulsiveness that longitudinally predict binge eating and problem gambling, suggesting that treatments for these behaviors should consider gender-specific personality and demo-graphic traits in addition to the common personality trait of negative urgency.
Farstad, S. M., von Ranson, K. M., Hodgins, D. C., El-Guebaly, N., Casey, D. M., & Schopflocher, D. P. (2015). The influence of impulsiveness on binge eating and problem gambling: A prospective study of gender differences in Canadian adults. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/adb0000069
Eye gaze tracking reveals heightened attention to food in adults with binge eating when viewing images of real-world scenes
Popien, A., Frayn, M., von Ranson, K.M., & Sears, C.R. (Undergraduate research project)
To assess the engagement and maintenance of attention to food in adults with binge eating, eye gaze tracking was used to compare fixations to food among non-clinical adults with and without binge eating while they viewed images of real-world scenes. Fifty-seven participants’ eye fixations were tracked and recorded throughout 8-second presentations of scenes containing high-calorie and/or low calorie food items in various settings (restaurants, social gatherings, etc.). Participants with binge eating fixated on both high-calorie and low-calorie food items significantly more than controls, and this was the case when the high- and low-calorie food items were presented in the same image and in different images. Participants with binge eating also fixated on food items significantly earlier in the presentations.
A time course analysis that divided each 8-second presentation into 2-second intervals revealed that participants with binge eating attended to food items more than control participants throughout the 8-second presentation. These results have implications for theory regarding the initiation and maintenance of binge eating.
Popien, A., Frayn, M., von Ranson, K.M., & Sears, C.R. (2015). Eye gaze tracking reveals heightened attention to food in adults with binge eating when viewing images of real-world scenes. Appetite 91, 233-240. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.04.046
Change in emotion regulation during the course of treatment predicts binge abstinence in guided self-help dialectical behavior therapy for binge eating disorder
Wallace, L.M., Masson, P.C., Safer, D.L., & von Ranson, K.M.
This research explored whether change in self-reported emotion regulation during treatment was associated with abstinence from binge eating at post-treatment and 4-, 5-, and 6-month follow-up in individuals who received a guided self-help adaptation of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder. Participants were 60 community-based men and women with BED who received a self-help manual and six 20-minute support phone calls.This study provides preliminary support for the theoretical role played by improved emotion regulation in achieving binge eating abstinence.
Wallace, L. M., Masson, P. C., Safer, D. L., & von Ranson, K. M. (2014). Change in emotion regulation during the course of treatment predicts binge abstinence in guided self-help dialectical behavior therapy for binge eating disorder. Journal of Eating Disorders, 2, 35. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40337-014-0035-x http://www.jeatdisord.com/content/2/1/35
Reciprocal associations between eating pathology and parent-child relationships: A monozygotic twin differences study
Korotana, L. M. (Wallace), Wilson, S., Iacono, W. G., & von Ranson, K.M. (Dissertation)
This research explores longitudinal associations between body dissatisfaction and interpersonal adjustment from age 11 to age 17 among a sample of over 800 females. Moderating effects of personality traits in predicting associations between body dissatisfaction and interpersonal adjustment will additionally be examined. This research will facilitate determining whether problems with body dissatisfaction or interpersonal adjustment tend to appear first in development, which will clarify etiologic and pathogenic mechanisms. As body dissatisfaction is linked to numerous negative mental and physical health outcomes, improved research to better understand the development of body dissatisfaction and to identify age-related risk and protective factors is needed.
Korotana, L. M., von Ranson, K. M., Wilson, S., & Iacono, W. G. (2018). Reciprocal associations between eating pathology and parent-daughter relationships: A monozygotic twin differences study. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 914. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00914 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00914/full
An examination of the representativeness assumption for twin studies of eating pathology and internalizing symptoms
Munn-Chernoff, M.A., von Ranson, K.M., Culbert, K.M., Larson, C.L., Burt, S. A., & Klump, K.L.
Little research has investigated whether the twin representativeness assumption (that results from twin research generalize to singletons) holds for eating pathology and internalizing symptoms. This study compared disordered eating, depression, and anxiety among young adult female twins versus singletons. Participants included 292 twins and 997 singletons in three samples. We examined mean differences between twins’ and singletons’ scores, after adjusting for age, body mass index, and ethnicity. Twins reported less disordered eating and internalizing symptoms compared with singletons. Our results suggest that twins report less disordered eating and internalizing symptoms than singletons, which indicate that results from twin samples generalize to singletons.
Munn-Chernoff, M.A., von Ranson, K.M., Culbert, K.M., Larson, C.L., Burt, S. A., & Klump, K.L. (2013). An examination of the representativeness assumptions for twin studies of eating pathology and internalizing symptoms. Behavior Genetics, 43, 427-435. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10519-013-9603-0
Eating disorders, substance use disorders, and impulsiveness among disordered gamblers in a community sample
von Ranson, K.M., Wallace, L.M., Holub, A., & Hodgins, D.C.
Disordered gambling and many eating disorders (EDs) involve recurrent loss of impulse control. We examined rates of specific EDs, ED psychopathology, substance use disorders, and their interrelationships with impulsiveness among community members with disordered gambling. Community-recruited adults with pathological (n = 95) or problem (n = 9) gambling (N = 104; 51% female) completed structured interviews and questionnaires. We observed high rates of substance dependence, lifetime EDs, and current ED psychopathology; 20.8% of women (vs 1.9% of men) had a DSM-IV ED, and 37.8% (vs 3.9%) had an ED according to proposed DSM-5 criteria. Although disordered gambling severity was not associated with ED diagnosis or severity of ED psychopathology, greater disordered gambling severity and an ED diagnosis were both associated with increased impulsiveness. These findings suggest that impulsiveness might constitute a common personality characteristic that underlies disordered gambling and EDs.
von Ranson, K. M., Wallace, L. M., Holub, A., & Hodgins, D. C. (2013). Eating disorders, substance use disorders, and impulsiveness among disordered gamblers in a community sample. European Eating Disorders Review, 21, 148-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/erv.2207
Evaluating the efficacy of a new type of guided self help treatment for binge eating disorder
Masson, P.C., & von Ranson, K. M. (Doctoral dissertation)
The purpose of this study was to see if a new guided self-help treatment approach for binge eating disorder, based on dialectical behaviour therapy, reduced binge eating in people who got the treatment, compared to individuals who did not receive the treatment right away. A total of 60 women and men with binge eating disorder participated in this study. Participants were placed randomly in either an immediate treatment group or a waitlist group. Everyone was assessed at the beginning of the study and approximately 14 weeks later. Individuals in the immediate treatment group got treatment between the first and second interview. Six months after the second interview, participants in the immediate treatment group were interviewed again to see if any changes made had been sustained. After 14 weeks, more people in the treatment group than the waitlist group had stopped binge eating (55% versus 4%). Those in the treatment group also tended to have significantly fewer binge eating episodes over the prior 28 days (2 versus 13). In addition, quality of life significantly improved in individuals in the treatment group versus the waitlist group. Individuals in the immediate treatment group reported greater ability to regulate their emotions and turned to food to cope with emotions less often than those who had not yet received treatment. Six months after treatment, individuals continued to demonstrate similar levels of improvement in most areas.
Wallace, L. M., Masson, P. C., Safer, D. L., & von Ranson, K. M. (accepted 11/13/2014). Change in emotion regulation during the course of treatment predicts binge abstinence in guided self-help dialectical behavior therapy for binge eating disorder. Journal of Eating Disorders, 2, 35. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40337-014-0035-x
Masson, P. C., von Ranson, K. M., Wallace, L. M., & Safer, D. L. (2013). A randomized wait-list controlled pilot study of dialectical behaviour therapy guided self-help for binge eating disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51, 723-728. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2013.08.001
Psychotherapies provided for eating disorders by community clinicians: Infrequent use of evidence-based treatment
von Ranson, K.M., Wallace, L.M., & Stevenson, A.
This study describes the psychological interventions used for eating disorders (EDs) by community practitioners. Of 573 clinicians we screened across Alberta, 130 (22.7%) had treated EDs; 118 (90.8%) were interviewed. Clinicians reported varied reasons for psychotherapy choice and diverse training experiences; the primary approaches used varied by education and field. The most common primary approach was eclectic (43.2%), followed by cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT; 22.9%). However, self-reported CBT clinicians used specific CBT techniques infrequently. Half of clinicians incorporated addictions-based techniques. These results indicate that ED treatment provided by community clinicians is varied and generally does not align with evidence-based practice guidelines.
von Ranson, K. M., Wallace, L. M., & Stevenson, A. (2012). Psychotherapies provided for eating disorders by community clinicians: Infrequent use of evidence-based treatment. Psychotherapy Research . Special issue: Eating Disorders, 23(3), 333-343. doi:10.1080/10503307.2012.735377 http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/4rIudMcHnnqnRMu3iqxr/full
Adding thin-ideal internalization and impulsiveness to the cognitive-behavioral model of bulimic symptoms
Schnitzler, C.E., von Ranson, K.M., & Wallace, L.M. (Doctoral dissertation)
This study evaluated the cognitive-behavioral (CB) model of bulimia nervosa and an extension that included two additional maintaining factors-thin-ideal internalization and impulsiveness-in 327 undergraduate women. Participants completed measures of demographics, self-esteem, concern about shape and weight, dieting, bulimic symptoms, thin-ideal internalization, and impulsiveness. Both the original CB model and the extended model provided good fits to the data. Although structural equation modeling analyses suggested that the original CB model was most parsimonious, hierarchical regression analyses indicated that the additional variables accounted for significantly more variance. Additional analyses showed that the model fit could be improved by adding a path from concern about shape and weight, and deleting the path from dieting, to bulimic symptoms. Expanding upon the factors considered in the model may better capture the scope of variables maintaining bulimic symptoms in young women with a range of severity of bulimic symptoms.
Schnitzler, C. E., von Ranson, K. M., & Wallace, L. M. (2012). Adding thin-ideal internalization and impulsiveness to the cognitive-behavioral model of bulimic symptoms. Eating Behaviors, 13 , 219-225. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2012.02.007
Perceptions and use of empirically-supported psychotherapies among eating disorder professionals
Wallace, L., & von Ranson, K.M. (Master's thesis)
This study explored eating disorder professionals’ views of empirical support for psychotherapies for eating disorders, and the influence of empirical evidence on eating disorder treatment selection. The study involved distribution of a web-based survey to researchers and clinicians who were members of two international eating disorder organizations. Results indicated that use of empirically-supported treatments for eating disorders and perceptions of empirical support available for various eating disorder psychotherapies differed between participants who were and were not recently involved in research. In addition, examination of the type of psychotherapies provided by clinicians indicated that most clinicians reported that they used empirically-supported treatments, but that they folded these treatments into eclectic approaches rather than providing the treatments in forms that had been evaluated in research trials. We concluded that perceptions of available research evidence for various psychotherapies may be important to target in order to increase the use of empirically-supported treatments in clinical practice. Such efforts may help to close the research-practice gap.
Wallace, L.M., & von Ranson, K.M. (2012). Perceptions and use of empirically-supported psychotherapies among eating disorder professionals. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50(3): 215-222. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2011.12.006
Weighing in on risk factors for body dissatisfaction: A prospective one-year study of middle adolescent girls
Wojtowicz, A.E. & von Ranson, K.M. (Doctoral dissertation)
Body dissatisfaction is a common problem among adolescent girls that is linked to serious outcomes, including the development of eating disorders. This study tested to what degree five theorized risk factors (weight-related teasing, thin-ideal internalization, body mass index [BMI], self-esteem, and perfectionism) predicted prospective changes in body dissatisfaction. At baseline, 393 10th and 11th grade girls (M = 15.8 years) completed questionnaires and had their height and weight measured. One year later, 316 participants' body dissatisfaction was reassessed (80.4% retention). Results suggested that self-esteem was the most potent risk factor, followed by BMI, when used to categorize girls into high- and low-risk groups for body dissatisfaction at follow-up. However, weight-related teasing, thin-ideal internalization, and perfectionism did not prove to be risk factors. These results suggest self-esteem and BMI are relevant variables for helping to identify middle-adolescent girls who may be at risk for subsequent increases in body dissatisfaction.
Wojtowicz, A. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (2012). Weighing in on risk factors for body dissatisfaction: A prospective one-year study of middle-adolescent girls. Body Image: An International Journal of Research, 9(1), 20-30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2011.09.002
Treatment manuals: Use in the treatment of bulimia nervosa
Wallace, L., & von Ranson, K.M. (Master's thesis)
A recent project explored clinicians’ use of treatment manuals in the treatment of bulimia nervosa. Results indicated that only 35.9% of clinicians reported using a treatment manual when treating their most recent client with bulimia nervosa, despite the existence of multiple evidence-based manuals for bulimia nervosa. Manuals were used more often if the clinician was younger; was a clinical psychologist; endorsed a cognitive-behavioral orientation; and/or was involved in research related to eating disorders. In addition, manuals were used more often in the treatment of an adult, rather than a child or adolescent, client, and were used less often when eclectic psychotherapy was provided. Based on the infrequent use of manuals, we concluded that psychotherapy provided in clinical practice often does not align with the specific form validated in research trials. Furthermore, it appeared that “eclecticism” (i.e., the incorporation of multiple psychotherapeutic approaches) is at odds with efforts to disseminate manuals into clinical practice.
Wallace, L.M., & von Ranson, K.M. (2011). Treatment manuals: use in the treatment of bulimia nervosa. Behaviour Reserach and Therapy, 49(11): 815-820 .
An exploratory study of eating disorder psychopathology among Overeaters Anonymous members
von Ranson, K.M., Russell-Mayhew, S., & Masson, P.C.
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a widely available, 12-step, self-help treatment program primarily used for weight loss that also offers to address eating disorder (ED) symptoms. However, because of OA's tradition of avoiding contact with "outside enterprises," little research has examined eating pathology among OA members. The present, uncontroled study examined current, self-reported ED psychopathology with the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire among 20 self-selected OA members. Consistent with OA's aim to address compulsive overeating, rates of subjective and objective bulimic episodes and eating concern were significantly elevated among OA members relative to norms for adult women, demonstrating medium effects, and restraint showed a significant, small effect. Other ED symptoms, including weight concern and compensatory behaviors, were not statistically different from norms, yet demonstrated small effect sizes. We conclude that many OA members may experience ED psychopathology that extends beyond binge eating.
von Ranson, K. M., Russell-Mayhew, S., & Masson, P. C. (2011). An exploratory study of eating disorder psychopathology among Overeaters Anonymous members . Eating and Weight Disorders, 16 , e65-e68.
Behavioural weight-loss treatment plus motivational interviewing versus attention control: lessons learned from a randomized controlled trial
Moss, E.L., Tobin, L., Campbell, T. S., & von Ranson, K. M.
It has been proposed that motivational interviewing (MI) may be an effective means by which to improve efficacy of current behavioural weight loss treatment. Given that MI addresses ambivalence and enhances motivation towards change it may enable individuals to commit and persist with the necessary health-related behavioural changes required for successful weight loss. The aim of this study was to assess whether incorporating MI into a behavioural weight loss program (BWLP) resulted in improvement on weight loss outcomes and related secondary outcomes (i.e., physical activity, dietary habits, blood pressure, and disordered eating) relative to an attention control group. One hundred and thirty-five (105 females, 30 males) overweight and obese participants (mean BMI = 33.58 kg/m2) were randomized to receive a 12-week BWLP plus two MI sessions, or the same BWLP pus two attention control sessions (93% retention rate). Participants were assessed at baseline, end of the BWLP, 1-month post BWLP, and 6-months post BWLP. Results showed that participants in both groups significantly decreased their weight and improved on indicators of physical activity, diet, and disordered eating (p< .05). However, changes in weight and related outcomes did not differ between the two study groups. This project highlighted that future research is necessary to determine methodological factors that are most associated with improved MI outcomes. Valuable lessons were learned through conducting this randomized trial.
Moss, E. L., Tobin, L., Campbell, T. S., & von Ranson, K. M. (2017). Behavioural weight loss treatment plus motivational interviewing versus attention control: Lessons learned from a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 18, 351. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13063-017-2094-1 http://rdcu.be/utuu
Changes in eating pathology and associated symptoms among chronically ill adults attending a brief psychoeducational group
Stevenson, A. S., von Ranson, K. M., Cannon, C., Shaw, W. (Honours research)
This study described eating behaviour before and one month after participating in psychoeducational groups held at two Calgary-area health care settings for individuals with obesity-related medical conditions. These groups aimed to increase participants' self-awareness concerning the links among their emotions, events, and eating behaviour. They also provided participants with basic behavioural tools to help them gain more control over their eating behaviour.
von Ranson, K.M., Stevenson, A.S., Cannon, C.K., & Shaw, W. (2010). Changes in eating pathology and associated symptoms among chronically ill adults attending a brief psychoeducational group. Eating Behaviours, 11(3): 186-189.
How does Overeaters Anonymous help its members? A qualitative analysis
Russel-Mayhew, S., von Ranson, K.M., & Masson, P.C.
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a 12-step, self-help group for individuals who perceive themselves to have problems with compulsive overeating. Despite the popularity of OA and the frequent use of addictions-based treatments for eating disorders, little is known about how OA is helpful. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore members' experiences with and perceptions of OA. We conducted three focus groups with self-selected members of OA (N = 20). We present three primary themes that emerged from the analysis of the focus groups' discussions, which emphasize why individuals entered OA, OA's 'tools', and how individuals perceived OA to 'work'. Overall, although participants agreed OA was helpful to them, there was no consensus regarding how OA 'works'.
Russell-Mayhew, S., von Ranson, K. M., & Masson, P. C . (2010). How does Overeaters Anonymous help its members? A qualitative analysis. European Eating Disorders Review, 18(1) , 33-42. doi:10.1002/erv.966
Binge eating, alcohol misuse and personality
Moss, E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Master's research)
The purpose of this research project was to examine personality characteristics in individuals who binge eat compared to those who do not binge eat. We were also interested in examining differences between women and men who binge eat, as well as similarities and differences between those who binge eat and those who have alcohol problems. To identify individuals at greatest risk and to develop effective prevention and early intervention programs, we must improve our understanding of variables that increase vulnerability to an eating disorder as well as variables that help maintain an eating disorder.
Exploring the ethical dilemma of excessive exercise in possible anorexia nervosa: A survey of fitness professionals
Wojtowicz, A. E., von Ranson, K. M., & Parsons-Olsson, C.
Many individuals with anorexia nervosa engage in high levels of physical activity, potentially putting their health at great risk, and raising an ethical dilemma for fitness professionals who are faced with the decision of whether or not they should intervene. This study surveyed the opinions of fitness professionals in Alberta. Participants (N = 143) were asked to describe their experience encountering individuals with anorexia nervosa in their gym/exercise classes and asked their opinions on ethical issues that may be involved in such a situation. Results revealed that the majority (62.2%) of fitness professionals have encountered a client they felt may have had anorexia nervosa. Most (74.2%) had never received any training or instructions on how to handle a client with anorexia nervosa, and felt inadequately prepared for such situations. Nonetheless, the majority (76.4%) of fitness professionals surveyed believe that it is their ethical obligation to intervene with such a client, despite the fact many participants (70.8%) reported that their professional codes of ethics do not offer guidelines pertinent to such situations. The results suggest that training and certification programs for fitness professionals should incorporate information on how to handle clients suspected of having anorexia nervosa who are exercising in fitness facilities.
Gender differences in the information processing of body shape words
Baxter, A. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Master's thesis)
In light of previous studies demonstrating that women typically desire a thin physique (Green et al., 1997) and men typically desire a more muscular physique (Cohane & Pope, 2001), it was hypothesized that men and women would respond differently to body shape words in two information processing tasks. Male and female undergraduates (N = 128) completed a visual probe detection task containing adjectives describing three categories of body build (i.e., thin, fat, muscular). Although the study found that women self-reported more body image concerns related to body weight and shape and men self-reported more concerns related to muscularity, gender differences were not detected in cognitive processing. In addition, greater body image concerns related to body weight and shape and muscularity were not consistently associated with stronger attentional or memory biases.
Cognitive processing of body and appearance words as a function of thin-ideal internalization and schematic activation
Cassin, S.E., von Ranson, K.M., & Whiteford, S.L.
To better understand how women at risk of body image disturbance respond when their body concerns are activated, we examined attentional and memory biases in undergraduate women with high thin-ideal internalization, an identified risk factor for eating disorders, following priming of body and appearance concerns. Female undergraduates (N = 186) viewed photos of either sports cars or attractive swimsuit models, then completed the Lexical Decision Test, a word recall test, and questionnaires assessing thin-ideal internalization and eating disorder symptomatology. High thin-ideal internalizers did not exhibit cognitive biases predicted by cognitive models of eating disorders, even when their body and appearance concerns were primed by exposure to attractive models. Converging evidence suggests that high-risk non-clinical samples rarely exhibit cognitive biases characteristic of individuals with eating disorders, and, in fact, may actually incorporate ideal appearance into their schemas and preferentially attend to attractive stimuli.
Cassin, S. E., von Ranson, K. M., & Whiteford, S. L. (2008). Cognitive processing of body and appearance words as a function of thin-ideal internalization and schematic activation. Body Image: An International Journal of Research , 5(3), 271-278. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2008.03.006
The effect of a brief motivational enhancement intervention on binge eating
Cassin, S. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Doctoral dissertation)
The purpose of this study was to develop and examine the effectiveness of a promising new treatment for binge eating disorder. Motivational enhancement therapy (MET), a brief intervention which seeks to resolve ambivalence and enhance intrinsic motivation for behavioral change, was designed with the goal of tailoring treatment based on clients’ needs. It was initially developed in the field of addictions, but has recently been adapted for the treatment of eating disorders due to the perceived similarity in symptoms. This was the first study to adapt MET for the treatment of binge eating disorder. The study found that MET successfully increases confidence and self-efficacy for change immediately following the intervention. As a result, participants reduced their binge eating and also noted improvements in depression, self-esteem, and quality of life 4 months following the intervention. The results suggest that MET holds promise as a brief, cost-effective treatment option for binge eating and associated symptoms.
Cassin, S.E., von Ranson, K.M., Hung, K., Brar, J., & Wojtowicz, A.E. (2008). Adapted motivational interviewing for women with binge eating disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 22(3), 417-425. doi:10.1037/0893-164X.22.3.417
Psychometric properties of the Minnesota Eating Behavior Survey in Canadian university women
von Ranson, K.M., Cassin, S.E., Bramfield, T.D., & Fung, T.S.
The Minnesota Eating Behavior Survey (MEBS) is a 30-item questionnaire for longitudinal assessment of disordered eating symptoms among community children and adults. This cross-validation study evaluated the MEBS's psychometric properties among 423 Canadian university women. Generally, we observed satisfactory internal consistency reliability and convergent and discriminant validity, although performance of the Compensatory Behavior subscale was relatively weak. Further, we observed acceptable congruence with the original factor structure in this sample, but confirmatory factor analysis indicated the original factor structure fit these data poorly. An alternative model is presented. We interpret these mixed results as largely supporting the MEBS's reliability and validity as a brief measure of disordered eating symptoms among female undergraduates. Further evaluation of its factor structure is needed.
von Ranson, K. M., Cassin, S. E., Bramfield, T. D., & Fung, T. S. (2007). Psychometric properties of the Minnesota Eating Behavior Survey in Canadian university women. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 39(2) , 151-159. doi:10.1037/cjbs.2007001
Development of word lists for testing attentional biases towards body shape stimuli among men and women
Baxter, A. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Master's thesis)
Few studies have examined gender differences in attentional bias towards words relating to body appearance, weight and shape. Studies that have examined gender differences (e.g., Green & McKenna, 1992; Ben-Tovim, Walker and Douros, 1993) have failed to consider that key elements of body shape ideals differ between men and women, presenting word lists that focus exclusively on the dimensions of fatness and thinness, and ignoring the dimension of muscularity. McCreary and Sasse (2000) have shown that instead of desiring a thin figure, males typically desire a muscular and heavy body shape. Thus, to expand our knowledge of gender-specific cognitive risk factors for body dissatisfaction in men, stimuli that include the dimension of muscularity are needed. The objective of this study was to develop word lists incorporating three categories of body build (i.e., fat, thin, and muscular).
Fifty-one male and 51 female university students were presented with a list of 284 potential words in random order. The potential word list was generated through consultation with colleagues and utilization of multiple thesauruses. Adjectives that described either an overweight, thin, or muscular physique were included. Participants were asked to provide ratings of the semantic meaning of the word, the valence of each word, and their familiarity with each word. The normative frequency of each potential word was determined by using an index of American English published by Kucera and Francis (1967).
Three word lists were developed, ranging from 24 to 32 words in length and describing fat, thin, and muscular physiques. The finalized word lists were constructed so that the mean number of syllables, word length, and word frequency were comparable across categories. We hope these stimuli will be useful to other researchers interested in refining our understanding of information processing biases associated with body image in men and women.
Wojtowicz, A.E., & von Ranson, K.M. (2007). Word lists for testing cognitive biases toward body shape among men and women. Behavior Research Methods, 39(1), 151-155.
Who is providing what type of psychotherapy to eating disorder clients? A survey
von Ranson, K.M. & Robinson, K.E.
Little is known about the psychotherapies delivered to eating-disordered clients by community therapists. We sought to describe the education and training of psychotherapists working with eating-disordered clients, the psychotherapeutic approaches used, and the reasons for use. Method: Eligible Calgary clinicians were identified and asked to complete a 25-item telephone interview. Results: The response rate was 74%. Educational backgrounds and fields of specialization of clinicians who completed the survey (n = 52) varied widely, as did the psychotherapies used. The most common primary therapeutic orientations of respondents were eclectic therapy (50%), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT; 33%), and addiction-based therapy (6%). Most clinicians (87%) reported frequently using CBT techniques with eating-disordered clients. The reasons given for using primary therapeutic approaches varied by clinicians' preferred therapeutic approach and education level. Conclusion: Clinicians generally choose to tailor treatment to individual needs rather than base decisions on the level of empirical support. These findings have implications for dissemination of empirically supported psychotherapies.
von Ranson, K. M. & Robinson, K. E. (2006). Who is providing what type of psychotherapy to eating disorder clients? A survey. International Journal of Eating Disorders , 39(1) , 27-34. doi:10.1002/eat.20201
Validation of the drive for muscularity scale in university men and women
Baxter, A. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Master's thesis)
Few assessment techniques have been developed to assess problematic behaviors intended to achieve a heavier, rather than lighter, weight goal, as may occur more often among men. The Drive for Muscularity Scale (DMS; McCreary et al., 2002) is a new 15-item questionnaire that assesses attitudes about muscularity and motivation to become more muscular. This study examined the psychometric properties of the DMS in a university sample of 53 male and 52 female weightlifters and nonweightlifters. All participants were administered the DMS, the Swansea Muscularity Attitudes Questionnaire (SMAQ; Edwards & Launder, 1999), and the Drive for Thinness (DT) subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI; Garner, Olmsted, & Polivy, 1983). It was hypothesized that weightlifters would respond differently than non-weightlifters on the questions related to muscularity, but not those questions related to the desire to be thin. It was also hypothesized that men would score higher on measures related to the desire to be muscular relative to women. In addition, it was predicted that women would score higher then men on measures related to the desire to be thin. Results revealed that all hypotheses were supported. Our findings suggest the DMS has utility as a brief instrument for measuring muscularity-related body image concerns among university men and women.
Wojtowicz, A.E., & von Ranson, K.M. (2006). Psychometric evaluation of two scales examining muscularity concerns in men and women. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 7(1), 56-66.
Recruitment strategies and disordered eating symptoms
Moss, E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Honours research)
This project examined the association between different recruitment strategies and individuals' level of eating pathology. Specifically, this experiment investigated whether the wording of recruitment advertisements creates self-selection or self-presentation biases in eating pathology research. Comparisons were made between a group recruited through advertising the study under the title “disordered eating in young women” and another group recruited using the title “consumer preferences.” Participants were 510 female university students. Results indicated that the different recruitment techniques did not engender self-selection effects as assessed by various measures of eating attitudes and behaviors; nor did they produce differences in self-presentation as measured by social desirability. These findings suggest that the manner in which eating pathology research is described does not significantly influence university students’ reporting of disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.
Moss, E., & von Ranson, K.M. (2006). An experimental investigation of recruitment bias in eating pathology research. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39(3), 256-259.
Calgary clinician survey
Robinson, K. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Honours research)
Kathleen contacted 354 local therapists, identified as providing counselling services in the Calgary Yellow Pages, to ask if they worked with eating disorder clients. Of these, she directly contacted 284 individuals. Seventy-one respondents indicated they provided counselling to people with eating disorders and so were eligible to participate in this study; approximately three-quarters of these eligible respondents completed the telephone survey. Approximately half of the sample had a master’s degree and approximately one-third had a Ph.D.; other levels of education were represented as well. Fields of education included: applied/counselling psychology, clinical psychology, social work, nursing, education, and medicine.
About half of participants identified their primary approach to treating eating disorders as eclectic, while about one third identified cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as their primary therapeutic approach. Other treatment techniques identified as being used often or always with this population included supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).
Nearly all respondents reported having received training in the treatment of eating disorders, more than a third of whom had received training in the use of manual-based CBT for eating disorders. By contrast, very few respondents reported having received training in the use of manual-based IPT for the treatment of eating disorders. A large majority of respondents expressed an interest in receiving training in the use of manual-based CBT, IPT, or both for the treatment of eating disorders.
In summary, Calgary therapists who provide outpatient psychotherapy for eating disorders have a wide range of educational and training backgrounds. Therapeutic approaches used are also diverse, with only a minority of therapists reporting using empirically-supported approaches such as CBT or IPT for bulimia nervosa.
von Ranson, K.M., & Robinson, K.E. (2006). Who is providing what type of psychotherapy to eating disorder clients? A survey. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39(1), 27-34.
Self-image and decision making
McMorris, C. A., Baxter, A. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Undergraduate research)
In this extension of Amy's master's thesis research project, we examined associations among cognition and body image in men and women. We predicted that individuals’ beliefs about their weight and shape would influence the way in which they processed information. We found that men and women differed significantly in the types of words they selectively attended to (women paid significantly more attention to fat and thin-related words than men), but men and women did not differ in the types of words they recalled. As expected, women reported more body weight and shape concerns and men reported greater muscularity concerns. Overall, the present findings are partially consistent with cognitive theory, which suggests that individuals will process information consistent with their beliefs about their body weight and shape more extensively than information which is inconsistent with their beliefs. The present findings help provide insight into the relationship between information processing and body dissatisfaction in both males and females.
Media and cognitive processing
Cassin, S. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (Master's thesis)
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of exposure to thin, attractive models from the media on attention to body and appearance-related words. Several studies have shown that as a woman becomes more concerned with her body shape or size, she focuses her attention on information consistent with her self-image (i.e., words such as “fat” or “chubby”) and ignores information inconsistent with her self-image (i.e., words such as “thin” or “slender”). Little research to date has examined whether the ideal of attractiveness promoted by the visual media is associated specifically with body dissatisfaction, or more generally with discontent with overall appearance. The present study aimed to examine whether women who internalize the thin ideal promoted by the media—that is, those who accept the media’s ideal of attractiveness and engage in behaviours intended to produce an approximation of these ideals—show greater attentional biases to body and appearance-related words than women who do not internalize the media’s ideal.
Two hundred female undergraduates were randomly assigned to view photos of either automobiles or attractive swimsuit models, then completed a computerized attentional task called the Lexical Decision Test and two questionnaires assessing eating disorder symptomatology and thin-ideal internalization.
Contrary to our expectations, the results from the present study indicated that women who internalize the media’s ideal did not selectively attend to body-related words, regardless of whether or not they were recently exposed to thin, attractive models. Contrary to what cognitive theories of eating disorders would predict, women who internalize the media’s ideal resisted negatively-valenced appearance-related words (i.e., words such as “ugly”), and attended to positively-valenced appearance-related words (i.e., words such as “pretty”).
We conclude that current cognitive models of eating disorders, which theorize that individuals with eating disorders selectively attend to information consistent with their self-image and resist information inconsistent with their self-image, do not account for cognitive processing biases found in non-clinical, university populations. This non-clinical sample appears to differ qualitatively in their cognitive biases toward body words from clinical samples assessed in other research.
Word lists for testing cognitive biases in eating disorders
Cassin, S.E. & von Ranson, K.M.
Objectives: To meet the need for improved word lists describing physical attributes of people for use in cognitive tests related to eating disorders, the present study developed four larger, homogeneous word lists, describing (1) a fat physique, (2) a thin physique, (3) unattractiveness, and (4) attractiveness. Method: Fifty female undergraduates categorized and rated the valence and familiarity of 233 words. Word lists were constructed so that average number of syllables, word length, word frequency and word familiarity would be comparable. Results: Fat and thin word lists and unattractive and attractive word lists were statistically matched on all aforementioned characteristics. As expected, fat and unattractive words were rated more negatively than thin and attractive words. The final word lists are presented. Discussion: Use of these standardized stimuli sets will help improve the internal validity of cognitive research that employs them and has the potential to facilitate comparison of results across studies.
Cassin, S. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (2005). Word lists for testing cognitive biases in eating disorders. European Eating Disorders Review, 13(3), 216-220 . doi:10.1002/erv.607
Personality and eating disorders: A decade in review
Cassin, S.E. & von Ranson, K.M.
Personality traits have been implicated in the onset, symptomatic expression, and maintenance of eating disorders (EDs). The present article reviews literature examining the link between personality and EDs published within the past decade, and presents a meta-analysis evaluating the prevalence of personality disorders (PDs) in anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge eating disorder (BED) as assessed by self-report instruments versus diagnostic interviews. AN and BN are both consistently characterized by perfectionism, obsessive-compulsiveness, neuroticism, negative emotionality, harm avoidance, low self-directedness, low cooperativeness, and traits associated with avoidant PD. Consistent differences that emerge between ED groups are high constraint and persistence and low novelty seeking in AN and high impulsivity, sensation seeking, novelty seeking, and traits associated with borderline PD in BN. The meta-analysis, which found PD rates of 0 to 58% among individuals with AN and BN, documented that self-report instruments greatly overestimate the prevalence of every PD.
Cassin, S. E., & von Ranson, K. M. (2005). Personality and eating disorders: A decade in review. Clinical Psychology Review , 25 , 895-916. doi :10.1016/j.cpr.2005.04.012
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