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Empathy and social functioning in anorexia nervosa before and after recovery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

King's Authors


Introduction. People with anorexia nervosa (AN) are known to have difficulties with social and emotional functioning, as indicated by their symptom presentation and also performance on tests of emotion perception. This study explores the level of empathy in AN, in terms of resonant experience of emotion in other people using a self-report measure.

Methods. Twenty-eight women with acute AN were compared to 25 women who have recovered from AN, and a further 54 healthy control (HC) participants. They were assessed using a questionnaire to measure reported levels of empathy, emotional recognition, social conformity, and antisocial behaviour.

Results. The acute AN group reported lower levels of empathy than the recovered AN group and HC, but they also reported less antisocial behaviour. No differences were found in emotional recognition or social conformity.

Conclusions. These results suggest that emotional empathy is reduced during acute AN. Lower levels of antisocial behaviour may reflect a contrasting desire of people with AN to minimise presentation of antisocial behaviour in the acute state.

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