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01-10-2011 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2011

Cognitive Therapy and Research 5/2011

The Relationship between Disordered Eating, Perceived Parenting, and Perfectionistic Schemas

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 5/2011
Suzanne Deas, Kevin Power, Paula Collin, Alex Yellowlees, David Grierson


There is currently no clear understanding of the ways in which predisposing and maintaining variables exert their influence on eating attitudes and behaviours. This study investigated two potentially meaningful variables: parental bonding and perfectionistic schemas. Both variables have been implicated in the onset and maintenance of anorexia nervosa (e.g. Bruch 1978; Davis et al. 2000). A cross-sectional design was employed, comprising three separate groups: 40 individuals with anorexia nervosa, 44 depressed and/or anxious individuals, and 78 university students. All participants completed the Eating Disorders Examination (either the interview or self-report format; Fairburn and Cooper 1993; Fairburn and Beglin 1994), the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI-S; Pedersen 1994), and the Young Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-S; Young 1998). Significant between group differences emerged on all three measures. Participants with anorexia had significantly higher scores than both comparison groups on the measure of disordered eating, they generally perceived their parents as less caring and more controlling, and they also endorsed a greater number of maladaptive schemas. The schemas that showed the greatest differences included those relating to perfectionism (e.g. ‘unrelenting standards’). Significant correlations between variables were revealed within each group, with the coefficients amongst the anorexia group being highly significant and generally stronger than those in the control groups. No mediating effects were found when data were subject to path analysis. The study’s hypotheses were partially met, in that negative parenting and perfectionistic schemas differentiated individuals with anorexia from comparison groups. However, it seems that perfectionistic schemas do not mediate between perceptions of parenting and disordered eating in those with anorexia.

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