Publication Date

April 2017

Advisor(s)

Caitlin Shepherd

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Individuals with eating disorders (EDs) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) share the neurocognitive style of weak central coherence, meaning they exhibit local processing bias and global processing deficits (i.e., local-interference). Weak central coherence may cause individuals to fixate on details and get stuck in thought patterns such as cognitive fusion, which can lead to attempts to suppress thoughts and result in distress. Prior research has examined the role of weak central coherence, cognitive fusion, and thought suppression in ED and OCD symptoms in clinical populations, but no study to date has examined these relationships in a non-clinical sample. The current study examined how weak central coherence related to ED symptoms, OCD-related obsessions, cognitive fusion, thought suppression, and distress in undergraduate students. Seventy-four female undergraduate students completed the Navon Task as a measure of local-interference. Participants completed self-report assessments of ED symptoms, OCD-related obsessions, cognitive fusion, thought suppression, and distress. Statistically significant mediational relationships were identified resulting in a model linking local-interference to ED symptoms via OCD obsessions, cognitive fusion, thought suppression, and distress. These results suggest that local-interference, cognitive fusion, thought suppression, and distress may represent shared endophenotypes related to EDs and OCD in a non-clinical sample. Broadly, understanding these shared endophenotypes may help to explain the high comorbidity and similarity between EDs and OCD. Our finding provides additional support for the development of transdiagnostic treatment and prevention efforts targeting these shared factors.

Available for download on Monday, April 15, 2019

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