Perceived control over events in the world in patients with eating disorders: a preliminary study

Tim Dalgleish, Kate Tchanturia, Lucy Serpell, Saskia Hems, Padmal de Silva, Janet Treasure

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39 Citations (Scopus)


A number of theoretical models of anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) have emphasised the role of perceived control in the onset and maintenance of the psychopathology. The present study investigated these claims by assessing perceptions of control over events in the world in groups of patients with AN (n=18), BN (n=15) and healthy controls (n=22). The study involved asking participants to complete a number of self-report measures that examined aspects of control. Results indicated that the two eating disorder groups perceived themselves as having less personal control over events in the world, relative to the healthy controls, even when depression levels were covaried out. Furthermore, the eating disorder groups also exhibited a depressive attributional style in that they made more internal, global and stable attributions for negative events in the world. However, this attributional style appeared to be largely a function of depressed mood. Finally, there was no difference between groups on a measure of whether the world was potentially controllable, in principle. These results broadly support recent theoretical conceptualisations of the eating disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-460
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Bulimia
  • Anorexia
  • control
  • attributional style
  • cognition
  • eating disorders


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