Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Michael P. Twohig


Michael P. Twohig


Tyson S. Barrett


Michael E. Levin


Karen Muñoz


Sara Boghosian


Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have serious negative effects on a person’s physical and mental well-being. These disorders are typically complex, and individuals are often struggling with one or more comorbid mental health problems, making them difficult to treat. To address this complexity and hopefully improve treatment outcomes for those with eating disorders, psychology research examining individual differences that appear to be related to differential treatment responses is needed. Better understanding how these factors relate to each other can help treatment providers identify the treatment methods most likely to work best for a specific individual based on their individual characteristics as early as possible in the treatment process.

Body image related cognitive fusion is defined as the problematic entanglement with the literal content of one’s thoughts about one’s body and is a psychological process that those struggling with eating disorders are especially susceptible to. This dissertation is composed of three studies that focus on understanding how individual differences in body image related cognitive fusion may relate to treatment outcome among adolescent and adult females in residential treatment for an eating disorder. The first study examines the statistical performance of the Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire—Body Image, a measure specifically designed to assess body image related cognitive fusion to test its validity and reliability when used with women experiencing clinically significant eating disorders. The second study explores how body image related fusion relates to eating disorder symptom severity and levels of intuitive eating behaviors at the time of admission to the residential facility. The third study examines changes in body image related cognitive fusion from admission to discharge and looks at whether these changes predict better treatment outcomes. Together, these three studies present an initial exploration of body image related cognitive fusion as a core underlying process of eating disorder related psychopathology to inform future intervention development and research.



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