Biological or psychological? effects of eating disorder psychoeducation on self-blame and recovery expectations among symptomatic individuals
Recent years have witnessed increasing popularity and promotion of biological influences (e.g., genetics) in eating disorder (ED) development. Although research suggests biological models of EDs reduce blame-oriented stigma in the general public, their effect on symptomatic individuals' attitudes toward themselves, treatment, and their prognosis has not been studied. Additionally, little is known about how other credible forms of conceptualizing ED development (e.g., cognitive-behavioral) affect individuals with disordered eating. Accordingly, the present study assessed the effects of three different forms of psychoeducation about ED development (biology-only, malleability of biology, cognitive-behavioral) among a sample high in ED symptoms. Participants (N = 216) viewed an audiovisual presentation describing ED development from one of the three perspectives before completing measures of self-blame for symptoms, prognostic expectations, self-efficacy in recovering, and attitudes toward a description of cognitive-behavioral therapy. There were no significant differences between conditions in self-blame. Relative to biology-only, the psychoeducational messages emphasizing malleable biology and cognitive-behavioral factors produced more prognostic optimism and self-efficacy in recovering. Perceived credibility of cognitive-behavioral therapy and expectations for its efficacy were highest in the cognitive-behavioral psychoeducation condition. Implications for efforts to educate the public and treatment-seeking individuals about the nature of EDs are discussed.