Effects of analytical and experiential self-focus on stress-induced cognitive reactivity in eating disorder psychopathology
Rawal A., Williams JMG., Park RJ.
Previous research suggests distinct modes of self-focus, each with distinct functional properties: Analytical self-focus appears maladaptive, with experiential self-focus having more adaptive effects on indices of cognitive-affective functioning (e.g., Watkins, Moberly, & Moulds, 2008). The authors applied this framework to eating disorder (ED) psychopathology and manipulated the mode of self-focus prior to exposure to a stressor (imagining eating a large meal; Shafran, Teachman, Kerry, & Rachman, 1999). Study 1 showed that students high in ED psychopathology reported lower post-stressor feelings of weight or shape change and less subsequent attempts to neutralise (e.g., imagining exercising) after experiential relative to analytical self-focus. Study 2 found that partially weight restored patients with anorexia nervosa had lower post-stressor estimates of their own weight and reported lower urge to cancel stressor effects following experiential compared to analytical self-focus. Experiential self-focus was also followed by less neutralisation than analytical self-focus. Results suggest that the mode of self-focus affects cognitive reactivity following a stressor in individuals with ED psychopathology. Examining the mode within which individuals with ED psychopathology focus on sel f and body may raise important implications for understanding of psychopathology and open new possibilities for augmenting current treatments. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.