Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) often report difficulties in identifying emotions, which have been mostly studied as an alexithymia trait. In a controlled two-day ecological momentary assessment, we studied the influence of time of day and aversive tension on self-reported momentary emotion identification. Analysis on an aggregated level revealed a significant lower mean emotion identification in the AN group. In a mixed model analysis, the AN group showed lower emotion identification than the control group (HC). Both a general and a group effect of time of day were found, indicating that emotion identification improved during the day in HC, whereas a negligible decrease of the emotion identification over time was observed in the AN group. Age was associated positively with emotion identification in general, but no specific effect on a group level was found. No effect of aversive tension was found. Our results indicate that an improvement during the day might be a natural process of emotion identification, which is hindered in AN. Future research should focus on temporal relations between emotion identification and disordered eating behavior to further evaluate the clinical relevance of emotion identification difficulties in AN.
- Anorexia nervosa
- Aversive tension
- Ecological momentary assessment