Word association test and psychosexual cues in assessing persons with eating disorders

Elliot M. Berry*, Dalia Kelly, Laura Canetti, Eytan Bachar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The present study aimed to detect psychosexual conflicts in patients with eating disorders using the Word Association Test which tests the perceptual sensitivity of the subject to conflictual words. We also expected patients to show concern about food and eating. 19 anorexic patients, 21 bulimic patients, and 20 control subjects without eating disorders provided associations to four groups of words: psychosexual words, food words, emotionally loaded words, and neutral words. Reaction times were recorded. Analysis showed that anorexic patients were slower than controls in responding to food-related words but bulimic patients were not significantly different from controls. Anorexic patients reacted more slowly than controls to psychosexual words. Bulimic patients were also somewhat slower than controls but faster than anorexic patients; however, these differences were not statistically significant. Results are congruent with research that points to sexual problems and delays in the psychosexual development of anorexic patients and to a lesser extent of bulimic patients.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998


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