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


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)
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (C.B.P., Grant Number R34MH099040-01A1; S.A.W., Grant Number R34MH098995).


  • Binge eating
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Self-discrepancy
  • Weight discrepancy

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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