Relationships between nonappearance self-discrepancy, weight discrepancy, and binge eating disorder symptoms

Elin Lantz Lesser, Kathryn E. Smith, Timothy J. Strauman, Ross D. Crosby, Scott G. Engel, Scott J. Crow, Carol B. Peterson, Stephen A. Wonderlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Self-discrepancy (i.e., perceived differences between one's actual self and personal standards) has been associated with binge eating disorder (BED) symptoms. However, little is known about how weight discrepancy (i.e., the difference between one's actual and ideal weights) interacts with or is distinguished from nonappearance self-discrepancy (discrepancy unrelated to weight or shape) in predicting BED severity. The current study examined how these two forms of discrepancy independently and interactively relate to BED and associated symptoms to elucidate how facets of self-discrepancy may operate to precipitate and maintain BED.

METHODS: Adults with BED (N = 111) completed questionnaires and interviews prior to treatment that assessed self-discrepancy (computerized selves) and weight discrepancy (assessed during the Eating Disorder Examination [EDE]) as predictors of global eating disorder (ED) symptomatology (EDE Global score), depression (Beck Depression Inventory), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale), and ED-related impairment (Clinical Impairment Assessment).

RESULTS: Multivariate regression models indicated nonappearance self-discrepancy and weight discrepancy were not significantly related to the severity of global ED symptoms, but both independently predicted impairment (ps < 0.05). Nonappearance self-discrepancy, but not weight discrepancy, was also associated with higher depression (p = 0.001), anxiety (p < 0.001), and lower self-esteem (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest distinct associations of weight discrepancy and nonappearance self-discrepancy with ED and related symptoms, as well as each of these constructs' relevance to everyday functioning in BED. The results also highlight potential avenues for future research to examine mechanistic pathways by which self-discrepancy influences BED severity.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: V, descriptive cross-sectional study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1571-1580
Number of pages10
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number5
Early online dateAug 8 2020
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Binge eating
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Self-discrepancy
  • Weight discrepancy
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Adult
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Anxiety
  • Binge-Eating Disorder/diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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