Too strict or too loose? Perfectionism and impulsivity: the relation with eating disorder symptoms using a person-centered approach

Liesbet Boone, Laurence Claes, Patrick Luyten
Eating Behaviors 2014, 15 (1): 17-23
Although both perfectionism (i.e. personal standards perfectionism and evaluative concerns perfectionism) and impulsivity have been shown to be implicated in eating disorders, no previous studies have examined the interplay between both personality dimensions in their association with eating disorder symptoms. This is the first study to investigate the relationship between empirically derived personality subtypes based on perfectionism and impulsivity and eating disorder symptoms (i.e., dietary restraint, and concerns over eating, weight and shape). Cluster analysis was used to establish naturally occurring combinations of perfectionism and impulsivity in adolescent boys and girls (N=460; M age=14.2 years, SD=.90). Evidence was obtained for four personality profiles: (1) a resilient subtype (low on perfectionism and impulsivity), (2) pure impulsivity subtype (high on impulsivity only), (3) pure perfectionism subtype (high on perfectionism only), and (4) combined perfectionism/impulsivity subtype (high on both perfectionism and impulsivity). Participants in these four clusters showed differences in terms of eating disorder symptoms in that participants with a combination of high perfectionism and high impulsivity (rather than the presence of one of these two characteristics alone) had the highest levels of ED symptoms. These findings shed new light on extant theories concerning ED.

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