Multi-state modeling of thought-shape fusion using ecological momentary assessment

Tyler B. Mason, Kathryn E. Smith, Ross D. Crosby, Scott G. Engel, Carol B. Peterson, Stephen A. Wonderlich, Haomiao Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Body dissatisfaction (BD) and preoccupation with thoughts of food (PTF) are intertwined and are components of thought-shape fusion. Thought-shape fusion describes the process by which PTF lead to beliefs about weight and shape. To study thought-shape fusion in daily life and explore various transitions between BD and PTF, 30 women with binge eating completed ecological momentary assessment for 14 days. BD and PTF were assessed using continuous rating scales at each prompt. Multi-state modeling, which analyzes micro-temporal transitions between discrete states, was used to examine transitions among four states created with BD and PTF ratings. The four states included low BD/low PTF, low BD/high PTF, high BD/low PTF, and high BD/high PTF. Affect and disordered eating were examined as covariates of state transitions. Results showed high BD states were self-perpetrating, such that when in high BD states, transition to low BD states were less likely. Regarding covariates, positive affect buffered against maladaptive transitions whereas negative affect and disordered eating increased risk. Findings highlighted high BD states as influential, and negative affect and disordered eating as risk factors and positive affect as preventive. This study enhances theory of thought-shape fusion and implicates transitions from BD to PTF as possible underlying transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-145
Number of pages7
JournalBody Image
Early online dateAug 3 2021
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded partially by the National Institute of Mental Health ( T32MH082761 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Eating disorders
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Multistate modeling
  • Thought-shape fusion


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