Body Image in Anorexia Nervosa: Body Size Estimation Utilising a Biological Motion Task and Eyetracking

Andrea Phillipou, Susan Lee Rossell, Caroline Gurvich, David Jonathan Castle, Nikolaus Friedrich Troje, Larry Allen Abel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a psychiatric condition characterised by a distortion of body image. However, whether individuals with AN can accurately perceive the size of other individuals' bodies is unclear. Method In the current study, 24 women with AN and 24 healthy control participants undertook two biological motion tasks while eyetracking was performed: to identify the gender and to indicate the walkers' body size. Results Anorexia nervosa participants tended to 'hyperscan' stimuli but did not demonstrate differences in how visual attention was directed to different body areas, relative to controls. Groups also did not differ in their estimation of body size. Discussion The hyperscanning behaviours suggest increased anxiety to disorder-relevant stimuli in AN. The lack of group difference in the estimation of body size suggests that the AN group was able to judge the body size of others accurately. The findings are discussed in terms of body image distortion specific to oneself in AN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • eating disorder
  • eye movements
  • scanpaths
  • visual attention

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