To examine the differences between participants scoring high versus low on a drive for thinness construct concerning their visual attention toward specific body parts. We hypothesized that participants scoring high on the drive for thinness subscale would show increased attention to body regions, which are important in the assessment of body weight and thinness like the waist, hips, legs, and arms.
We examined eye-gaze behavior of a nonclinical sample of 51 male and female college students with an eye-tracking system as they were looking at pictures of young, attractive males and females. In addition, we used the Eating Disorder Inventory to measure drive for thinness.
Participants with increased scores on the drive for thinness subscale looked longer and more often to the waist, hips, legs, and arms as compared with low scorers. In addition, they showed decreased attention toward the head or face.
The results indicate that participants scoring high on drive for thinness show an attentional bias toward body regions that are associated with assessing changes in weight. However, they neglected the face, which is the most important source of social and affective information when looking at others.
EDI = Eating Disorder Inventory;
GLM = general linear model.