Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Personality traits associated with anorexia nervosa and eating disorder symptoms in adolescents; a meta-analytic review

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posted on 2023-02-08, 03:47 authored by Kerr, Cassandra

Personality traits have been recognized to play a key role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders (EDs), yet much of past literature has focused on adult eating disordered samples. Because EDs typical onset is during the adolescent years, and early treatment may contribute to a more positive prognosis, this literature review sought to summarize existing studies focusing on personality and EDs, or eating disordered symptomology in adolescence. Additionally, I completed eight meta-analyses comparing scores on a variety of personality variables between adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN) and healthy controls; where possible clinical vs non-clinical samples and differences in personality measures were explored as potential moderating factor. Results indicated that adolescents with AN differed from healthy controls on perfectionism, ineffectiveness, impulse regulation, interpersonal distrust and interoceptive awareness. Novelty seeking and maturity fears did not differ between the two groups. The nature of the sample moderated the relationship between interoceptive awareness and AN, such that clinical samples showed poorer interoceptive awareness. Findings support existing evidence associating personality traits with EDs and extends this to the adolescent age range. It is argued that different combinations of personality traits interact with one another to increase risk and maintain an individual's ED, and this should be taken into account during treatment. Further research using longitudinal designs are needed to help understand the impact personality has on EDs across time; we also need more studies focusing on ethically and gender diverse samples - both of which have been ignored thus far.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Wilson, Marc