Guardia et al. 2012; contemporary study


Title and aim

  • Title; imagining one's own and someone else's body actions: Dissociation in anorexia nervosa
  • Aim; to consider whether indiv.'s perception of body size and misjudgement of being able to fit through a door frame could be extended beyond the indiv.; would they also misjudge the body size of other people?
1 of 5


  • 25 female patients from eating disorders clinic
  • All met DSM IV criteria for AN, another 25 healthy female controls 
  • Each group matched for age approx. 24 yo and education, 13 years of education
  • in AN group; 12 diagnosed with restricting type, 13 diagnosed with binge eating type 
  • AN group; BMI; 15.6, shoulder width; 37.7
  • Control group; 22.1, 41.5
  • Door frame projected onto a wall; gave the illusion of an opening that ppts could walk through
  • 51 different shapes projected, from 30cm-80cm wide 
  • Projections presented in random order, each shape presented 4 time per ppts 
  • Each ppt tested alone, asked to predict if they could walk through each door frame at normal speed without turning from side to side
  • then asked whether another female research in the room could fit through the frame-third person perspective
  • researcher; similar BMI and shoulder wideth to control group 
2 of 5


  • supported previous findings; AN group showed sig. overestimation of body size in themselves; judging they wouldn't be able to fit through door frames that were considerably bigger than their actual body size 
  • However, the same wasn't found in the judgement of the researcher; more accurate in predicting body size of the other person in relation to their ability to. pass through frame
  • Control group; no sig. difference 
  • Also found a correlation between the passability judgements made by AN group and their pre-illness body weight/size 
3 of 5


  • Patients haven't adapted their internal body image to take into account their 'new body size' after developing the disorder 
  • Suggests that the brain still perceives the body as larger size depite visual info that contrdicts this 
  • also discovered; patients who lost weight 6 months before the study; greater difference between their one and the other person's passability perceptions- pos. correlation between amount weight lost and amount of difference between the 2 measures of passability 
  • suggests; when anorexics lose weight their CNS can't update the body image schema quickly enough to provide an accurate representation of current body size; might explain why patients with AN continue to see themselves as bigger thn they acc. are and strive to continue to lose weight becuase their brain doesn't perceive their current body size accurately. 
4 of 5

Evaluation of explanation

  • Generalisability;
  • Limited size; only 25 ppts were studied- not sufficient to generalise the conclusion that AN affects one's own body size perceptions and not that of others 
  • gynocentric; cannot generilse to all AN patients (males), age-bound to younger patients only; patients from other cultural groups/age groups- underepresented; although majority of sufferers with AN are young females so appropiate target population
  • third person perspective condition; body size matched control group, not patient group; potential advantage for control group at estimating her ability to pass through frame 
  • However, researchers themselves identified that to get a 'third person' who had a similar body size may involve having patients with AN judge the body size of another person with the disorder
  • Ethics
  • Carries ethical issues; making judgements of body size of people who already had body image-related issues
  • Validity; making visual jugement of a person's ability to pass through a virtual door frameis different to actually attemping to walk through the projected shape 
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Health and clinical psychology resources »