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Background Prior research indicates that deficits in emotional abilities are key predictors of the onset and maintenance of eating disorders (ED). As a relatively new emotion-related construct, emotional intelligence (EI) comprises a set of basic emotional abilities. Preliminary research suggests that deficits in EI are linked with disordered eating and other impulsive behaviours. Also, previous research reveals that emotional and socio-cognitive abilities, as well as ED symptomatology, varies across lifespan development. However, while the findings suggest promising results for the development of potential effective treatments for emotional deficits and disordered eating, it is difficult to summarise the relationship between EI and ED due to the diversity of theoretical approaches and variety of EI and ED measures.Objective Our study, therefore, aimed to systematically review the current evidence on EI and ED in both the general and clinical populations and across different developmental stages.Methods The databases examined were Medline, PsycInfo and Scopus, and 15 eligible articles were identified. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used.ResultsAll the studies reviewed indicated negative associations between EI and the dimensions of ED. Additionally, several mechanisms involved, namely adaptability, stress tolerance and emotional regulation were highlighted.Conclusion The systematic review suggests promising but challenging preliminary evidence of the associations between EI and the dimensions of ED across diverse stages of development. In addition, future research, practical implications and limitations are discussed.Level of evidence ISystematic review.
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Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
Emotional intelligence andeating disorders: asystematic review
JuanaRomero‑Mesa1· MaríaAngelesPeláez‑Fernández1 · NatalioExtremera1
Received: 17 February 2020 / Accepted: 17 July 2020
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
Background Prior research indicates that deficits in emotional abilities are key predictors of the onset and maintenance of
eating disorders (ED). As a relatively new emotion-related construct, emotional intelligence (EI) comprises a set of basic
emotional abilities. Preliminary research suggests that deficits in EI are linked with disordered eating and other impulsive
behaviours. Also, previous research reveals that emotional and socio-cognitive abilities, as well as ED symptomatology,
varies across lifespan development. However, while the findings suggest promising results for the development of potential
effective treatments for emotional deficits and disordered eating, it is difficult to summarise the relationship between EI and
ED due to the diversity of theoretical approaches and variety of EI and ED measures.
Objective Our study, therefore, aimed to systematically review the current evidence on EI and ED in both the general and
clinical populations and across different developmental stages.
Methods The databases examined were Medline, PsycInfo and Scopus, and 15 eligible articles were identified. Preferred
Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used.
Results All the studies reviewed indicated negative associations between EI and the dimensions of ED. Additionally, several
mechanisms involved, namely adaptability, stress tolerance and emotional regulation were highlighted.
Conclusion The systematic review suggests promising but challenging preliminary evidence of the associations between
EI and the dimensions of ED across diverse stages of development. In addition, future research, practical implications and
limitations are discussed.
Level of evidence I Systematic review.
Keywords Emotional intelligence· Eating disorder· Systematic review· General population
The impact of negative emotions on eating behaviours has
been examined extensively, although due to its variability, it
is difficult to predict how emotion will affect people’s eating
habits [1]. Some studies have found that specific emotions,
such as anger, fear, sadness and joy, in addition to more last-
ing and enduring moods, affect food responses during the
ingestion process [2, 3]. According to Polivy and Herman,
deficits in processing emotions play an important role in the
development and maintenance of eating disorders (ED) [4].
As reported by Agras and Telch, difficulties in the regula-
tion of negative affective states might cause an increase in
binge-eating behaviour [5]. Theory and empirical research
over the last two decades suggest that emotional intelli-
gence (EI), or the ability to process emotional information
and regulate emotion adaptively, may be a crucial protective
factor in ED, but no systematic review has examined the
association between EI and ED and other related behaviours.
Synthesising the available evidence on the empirical rela-
tionship between ED and EI through a systematic review
would allow one to know the state of research in this incipi-
ent field of study. Understanding the relationship between
The article is part of the Topical Collection on Personality and
Eating and Weight Disorders.
* María Angeles Peláez-Fernández
Juana Romero-Mesa
Natalio Extremera
1 Department ofSocial Psychology, Social Work, Social
Anthropology andEast Asian Studies, Faculty ofPsychology
andLogopedics, University ofMálaga, Campus de Teatinos,
s/n. 29071, Málaga, Spain
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
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EI and ED is critical to guide prevention programmes and
treatment approaches for subjects with ED or those at risk
of ED. Because of the heterogenous and restricted number
of published articles, a systematic review instead of a meta-
analysis was conducted.
Emotional intelligence
Two theoretical frameworks are the most commonly
accepted in the research literature: mixed models and ability
models [6]. The mixed-trait model conceives of EI as a com-
pendium of stable personality traits, socio-emotional compe-
tences, motivational aspects and diverse cognitive abilities
[79]. Drawing upon these models, Bar-On [10] defines EI
in terms of an array of emotional and social attributes and
abilities that influence the overall ability to effectively cope
with environmental demands. It is composed of five com-
ponents: (1) intrapersonal (emotional self-understanding,
assertiveness, self-concept, self-realisation, independence);
(2) interpersonal (empathy, interpersonal relationships,
social responsibility); (3) adaptability (problem-solving,
reality testing, flexibility); (4) stress management (stress tol-
erance, impulse control); and (5) general mood (happiness,
optimism). In this mixed EI approach, self-report measures
are the measures most typically used.
In Mayer and Salovey’s [11] ability model, EI comprises
four interrelated and basic abilities: the ability to perceive,
assess and express emotions accurately; the ability to access
or generate feelings that facilitate thinking; the ability to
understand emotions and emotional knowledge; and the
ability to regulate emotions promoting emotional and intel-
lectual growth. This theoretical approach encompasses a set
of conceptually related emotional abilities to reason about
emotions and to process emotional information to enhance
cognitive processes, in which one fundamental and most
effective predictor is the emotion regulation ability [12].
Conforming to EI theorists, the EI research tradition is more
outcome-oriented in the sense that it seeks to capture the
consequences of emotion regulation on health, social and
life outcomes and to examine—among other dimensions—
individual differences in emotion regulation. In contrast, the
emotion regulation research tradition aims to examine issues
in a more process-oriented way; that is, it is more focused on
the processes by which individuals modify the trajectory of
the components of an emotional response. This tradition is
more interested in examining the emotion regulation strate-
gies that individuals use to manage their emotions [13, 14].
Regarding age, there are several measures of EI—both the
trait and ability approach for the adult population and their
respective adaptations for the child and adolescent popula-
tion. Some authors have reported an increase over time in
emotional self-efficacy [1517] and EI ability that become
more stable across the age spectrum [1820].
Emotional intelligence andeating disorders
Previous studies have found inverse associations between
ED symptoms and various psychological factors that medi-
ate emotional deficit management [21]. For instance, there
is evidence that low self-concept and emotion dysregulation
are key factors in the appearance and maintenance of ED
[2225]. Similarly, individuals with high ED scores report
low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with body image [26,
27]. Eating disorder symptoms have also been associated
with interpersonal problems [28, 29], low levels of assertive-
ness [29] and more difficulties in recognising facial emo-
tional expression [30]. Furthermore, compared to healthy
subjects, ED patients are found to have significantly higher
impulsivity scores [31].
On the other hand, in terms of early age, some studies
indicate that childhood obesity could predict the risk of ED.
In a longitudinal study, it was concluded that 40% of the
overweight girls and 20% of the overweight boys—13.4%
and 4.7%, respectively—were involved in at least one altered
eating behaviour, and they had more than one related behav-
iour [32]. Other research suggests that a high body mass
index (BMI), body comparison, and sociocultural pressure to
reduce weight were risk factors for engaging in weight-loss
behaviours [33]. In addition, along with their developmen-
tal capacities and chronicity, the symptomatic expression
of ED varies across infancy and adolescence [34]. Children
and adolescents differ from adults both physiologically and
emotionally as they make the transition from child to adult
and, thus, with significant advances in the development of
emotional self-control. Literature in developmental psychol-
ogy reveals that emotional abilities constitute an important,
continuing topic throughout childhood, adolescence, and
adulthood and that each developmental transition is associ-
ated with change in one’s affective skills. These processes
are present in infancy but continue improving throughout
adolescence into adulthood and may underlie the emer-
gence and prevalence of ED in different stages. In short,
compared to adults, children and adolescents report more
limited verbal skills, lower abstracting problem-solving
abilities, less awareness of emotions, and reduced cogni-
tive control of impulsive behaviour [34]. These develop-
mental differences highlight the difficulties in diagnosing
ED and its correlates and symptoms in children and ado-
lescents. Likewise, a recent study carried out with 30,000
individuals with ED across five different developmental
stages (early adolescence, late adolescence, young adult-
hood, early-middle adulthood, and middle–late adulthood)
[35] revealed that, beyond similarities in central symptoms,
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
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the network structure or interconnectivity of ED symptoms
vary significantly from adolescence to adulthood. Moreover,
the potential deficits in emotional skills might interfere with
these necessary developmental transitions in a manner that
might increase the risk of appearance of ED, accounting
for differences in prevalence and intensity across different
developmental stages.
Using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews
and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines [36], the present
work aims to systematically review the studies on EI and
ED to obtain a broader understanding of the empirical link
between ED and EI through different theoretical concep-
tualisations of EI, different stages of lifespan development
(childhood, adolescence, youth and adulthood) and several
types of population (general and clinical). Reviewing and
summarising this corpus of knowledge could allow the
development of a clear image of the current state of research
and propose future lines of research to complement the exist-
ing gaps in the field.
Exhaustive searches were conducted in the PsycINFO, Med-
line and Scopus databases between 6–13 November 2019.
We handled a computerised literature search, locating arti-
cles published in English or Spanish without any limitation
of time or age. The term ‘emotional intelligence’ was used
as a keyword or term in the title or summary, along with
the following expressions: ‘eating disorders, ‘binge eating’,
‘bulimia’, ‘anorexia’ and ‘body mass index’. We also per-
formed manual searches of reference lists that allowed us to
complement our study’s database.
The articles that met the following criteria were included
in our review. The first criterion was that the studies had
to be based on empirical research; so, theoretical studies
and reviews were excluded. The second criterion was that
the articles had to examine the association between EI and
ED or symptoms of ED as related variables. The third cri-
terion was that the EI evaluation tools had to be based on a
theoretical EI model, and that they must assess at least one
dimension of EI. Studies based on other theoretical perspec-
tives (e.g., dysregulation of emotion or emotional function-
ing) were, therefore, excluded.
We identified 84 potentially eligible studies in the initial
searches: 22 in PsycINFO, 16 in Medline and 46 in Scopus.
Forty-nine relevant studies remained after eliminating the
35 duplicates. In this phase, two independent researchers
examined the titles and abstracts against the inclusion and
exclusion criteria, and a third researcher was consulted in
cases of disagreement. At this stage, our review led to the
exclusion of studies, because: (1) they did not study EI and
ED as the main variables; (2) they were not based on an EI
framework, or (3) they were not empirical studies. At the end
of this selection process, 38 studies were excluded, resulting
in 11 articles that fulfilled all the inclusion criteria. We also
included four articles found through manual searches that
met all the criteria. These 15 documents were examined in
their entirety and formed our final set of studies that actually
investigated EI and ED as the main variables. There was
only one study with children that examined the link between
EI and emotional eating behaviour (Fig.1).
The instruments used to measure ED in the studies were as
Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) [37] is the most fre-
quently used test in the included studies [6 of 15]. It is
a 26-item questionnaire that comprises three subscales:
dieting, bulimia and food preoccupation, and oral control.
Acceptable internal consistency reliability estimates for
the subscales are as follows: dieting—0.92, bulimia/food
preoccupation—0.86, and: oral control—0.71 [38].
Bulimia Test Revised (BULIT-R) [39] is a 36-item self-
report that measures the degree of bulimic attitudes and
behaviours, with excellent internal consistency: 0.98
Praeger Questionnaire Emotional Eating (PQEE) [41]
evaluates emotional feeding through 16 items of food
consumption, with adequate internal reliability ranging
from 0.72 to 0.85 in previous studies [41].
Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q)
[42] is a 36-item self-report measure of ED symptoma-
tology and behaviours across four subscales: dietary
restraint, weight concern, shape concern and eating con-
cern. Test–retest correlations ranged from 0.66 to 0.94
for scores on the four subscales [43].
Eating Disorders Diagnostic Scale (EDDS) [44] is a
9-item self-report scale for diagnosing anorexia nervosa
(AN), bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge-eating disorder.
Average internal consistency is 0.89 [44].
Eating Disorder Inventory II (EDI-II) [45] is a 9-item
self-report that assesses the behavioural and cognitive
patterns associated with ED. Cronbach’s alpha for ano-
rexia scale is 0.90 and for bulimia, it is 0.83 [45].
Food Preoccupation Questionnaire (FPQ) [46] is a
28-item self-report that evaluates rigidity, excess partici-
pation and concern for food, and food consumption. The
questionnaire demonstrated good reliability and construct
validity [46].
Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory-ED Scale
(MACI) [47] evaluates a clear tendency to AN or BN
and image perception, conditioned by fear of obesity.
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
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The reliability of the scales has been proven interna-
tionally on repeated occasions [48].
Eating Disorder Inventory 3 (EDI-3) [49] contains 12
main scales: three specific ED—obsession with thin-
ness, bulimia and body dissatisfaction—and nine psy-
chological/general ones. It has shown good internal
consistency (0.91 for girls and 0.84 for boys) [49].
Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview Eat-
ing Disorder (module of the DSM-IV; M.I.N.I. Kids
6.0) [50] is a diagnostic interview based on DSM-IV
criteria. For any eating disorder, the area under curve
(AUC) ranges between 0.81 and 0.96, and the Kappa
coefficient ranges between 0.56 and 0.87 [50].
Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ) [51]
is a multidimensional, parent-report questionnaire
measuring children’s eating behaviour and is designed
to assess eating styles related to obesity risk. The
instrument is composed of 35 items and eight scales
(responsiveness to food, enjoyment of food, satiety
responsiveness, slowness in eating, fussiness, emo-
tional overeating, emotional undereating and desire for
Recordsidenfiedthrough database
PsycINFO: 22
Medline: 15
Addionalrecords idenfied
throughother sources
Recordsaer duplicatesremoved
(n =53)
(n =53)
(n =0)
Full-text arclesassessed
Full-textarcles excluded,
Fig. 1 Flow chart of selection process
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
1 3
drinks). The scale’s internal consistency was accept-
ably high (Cronbach’s alpha: 0.83) [51].
To measure IE, the following instruments were used:
Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (original ver-
sion) (EQ-i) [52] is a self-report measure with 133
items and includes five factors: intrapersonal, inter-
personal, adaptability, stress management and general
mood. EQ-i’s global internal consistency coefficient is
0.97 [52].
Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (short version)
(EQ-i:S) [53] is a self-report measure with 51 items and
includes the five factors of its original version [52]. Stud-
ies of reliability have yielded a Cronbach’s alpha ranging
from 0.76 to 0.93 [53].
Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (youth version)
(EQ-i: YV) [54] is a self-report measure with 60 items
and also includes the five factors of its original version
[52]. Estimates of internal consistency ranged from 0.65
to 0.90 [54].
Trait Meta Mood Scale (TMMS-30) [55] is a self-report
questionnaire that measures trait EI and consists of 30
items with three intrapersonal dimensions: attention,
clarity and emotional repair. Acceptable values for Cron-
bach’s alpha in attention: 0.86, clarity: 0.88 and repair:
0.82 were reported [55].
Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale (WLEIS)
[56] is a self-report questionnaire that measures trait
EI and contains 20 items comprising four subscales:
evaluation of emotion in oneself, evaluation of emo-
tion in others, use of emotion and regulation of emotion.
The WLEIS was used in its Hebrew version [55] which
showed adequate Cronbachs alpha internal reliability
ranging from 0.72 to 0.85 in previous studies [56] and
also in its Chinese version [57], whose Cronbach’s alpha
internal consistency was 0.89 [56].
Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale (SEIS) [58] is a
self-report test of 33 items composed of four subscales:
evaluation, expression, regulation and use of emotion,
with an adequate internal consistency of 0.90 [58].
AudioVisual Test of Emotional Intelligence (AVEI) [59]
consists of a 27-item skills test, based on the recognition
and analysis of emotions through images and short vid-
eos, which are framed in two of the four branches defined
by Mayer etal. [6] It has good reliability and predictive
validity [59].
Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Evaluation
Scale (MEIA) [60] evaluates self-perceived personality
traits in emotional functioning. It is composed of 116
items based on Salovey and Mayer’s original model [61].
The overall Cronbachs alpha of the factor-based scale
representing the entire test was 0.96 [62].
MayerSaloveyCaruso Emotional Intelligence Test Ver-
sion 2.0 (MSCEIT) [63] includes 141 items and is framed
within the EI ability model. It includes the four areas
proposed in the Mayer and Salovey model: perception,
facilitation, understanding and emotional management.
The overall EI test score reliability was r = 0.93 for con-
sensus and 0.91 for expert scoring [64].
Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire—Adolescent
Short Form (TEIQue-ASF) [65] (Spanish version) is a
30-item self-report instrument that measures the global
trait EI. The test has exhibited an internal consistency of
0.82 [65].
Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces (KDEF) [66] is
based on the ability model of Mayer etal. [6]. This task
involves recognising facial emotions with 20 standard-
ised colour photographs of the faces of young European
adults showing four types of facial expressions: happy,
angry, sad and neutral. The average success rate skewed
was 72% [67].
Fifteen articles were included in our review and were clas-
sified into five developmental stages of subjects included in
the studies: (1) adults and young adults; (2) young adults and
adolescents; (3) adolescents; (4) adolescents and children,
and (5) children. Some of these categories overlapped due
to the sample ages of included studies. Of the 15 studies, 14
were performed in general population samples and one was
performed in a clinical sample.
Seven studies were identified as examining EI and ED in
an overlapping adult population with a young adult popula-
tion, all of them using cross-sectional designs.
Three used EI self-report measurements, three combined
EI self-report measures with performance-based instru-
ments, and only one used performance-based EI measures
exclusively. The description of the 7 studies, the EI assess-
ment tools and the main findings are presented in Table1.
Findings inadults andyoung adults using
self‑report EI measures
Costarelli, Demerzi and Stamou [68] used the EQ-i [52].
Their results showed that women who reported ED attitudes
demonstrated lower levels of EI compared to counterparts
who did not have ED attitudes. In addition, they found sig-
nificant positive associations between anxiety levels and EI.
Zysberg and Rubanov [69] used the Hebrew version of
the WLEIS [56]. The results indicated a strong association
between EI and emotional eating, in such a way that the
highest EI scores are associated with a lower tendency to
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
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Table 1 Studies on EI and ED (Adult and young adult population)
Study Sample (N) EI scale Examined variables Statistical analyses Principal results Statistics
Costarelli etal. [68] 92 female students
Age range = 18 - 30
(M = 23, SD = 3.53)
EQ-i Bar-On – Eating attitudes (EAT-26)
– Body image (MBSRQ)
– Anxiety (STAI)
– Mann–Whitney test – Women in the ED attitudes
group had lower levels
of EI compared to the
control group (in factors:
emotional self-awareness,
empathy, interpersonal
relationships, stress man-
agement and happiness)
M = 25.52 (± 4.129 vs.
M = 28.54 (± 4.78),
p < .05
M = 27.86(± 6.78) vs.
M = 31.41(± 4.03);
p < .01
M = 38.71(± 5.26) vs.
M = 42.79(± 3.93);
p < .001
M = 54.86(± 5.69) vs.
M = 58.55(± 8.41);
p < .05
M = 34.00(± 4.70) vs.
M = 36.71(± 5.15);
p < .05
Zysberg and Rubanov [69] 90 adults (50 women and 40
Age range = 21 - 62
(M = 42.3, SD = 11.8)
WLEIS – Emotional eating (PQEE) – Pearson’s correlation coef-
– Strong association between
EI and emotional eating r = − .72; p < .001
Foye etal. [70] 355 adults (84% women and
16% men)
Age: > 18
83 with ED background
272 without ED background
SEIS – Eating attitudes (EAT-26) – Pearson’s correlation coef-
– Mann–Whitney test
–Significant negative cor-
relations between total
scores of ED and overall EI
and EI facets (appraisal of
one’s emotions, emotional
regulation, emotional
utilisation and optimism).
These relationships were
significant only for those
with an ED background
r = − .371; p < .001
r = − .363; p < .09
r = − .477; p < .001
r= − .346; p < .004
r = − .379; p < .001
Zysberg and Tell [72] 130 adults (93 women and
37 men)
Age range: 21-31
(M = 26.67, SD = 3.47)
– Tendency to ED (EDI-II)
– Perceived control (PCS)
– Pearson’s correlation coef-
– The perceived control
mediated the associations
between the score in EI
and ED for AN and BN
r = .17; p < .03
Zysberg [73] 126 students (31 men and 95
(M = 24.07, SD = 2.43)
– Food preoccupation (FPQ)
– Body weight, image and
self-esteem (B-WISE)
– Appearance (ASI)
– Personality traits (Big-5)
– Pearson’s correlation coef-
–High levels of EI correlate
with lower levels of food
r = − .15; p < .05
r = − .27; p < .01
Gardner etal. [74] 235 women; age range:
(M = 36.20, SD = 11.72)
– Bulimic symptoms
– Bivariate correlations –The EI global trait was
negatively correlated with
binge eating and global
bulimic symptoms
r = − .21; p < .001
r = − .22; p < .001
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
1 3
eat emotionally and vice versa. When using a hierarchical
regression model, it was observed that age and sex had no
significant effect on emotional eating, and education had a
moderate effect.
Foye, Hazlett and Irving [70] used the SEIS [58] to meas-
ure EI. They used additional subscales conforming to the
analysis of Lane etal. [71] to provide a six-faceted EI score
(appraisal of others’ emotions, appraisal of own emotions,
emotional regulation, social skills, emotional utilisation and
optimism). The findings indicated negative associations
between overall EI and EAT-26 [37] total scores. These
associations stayed significant for only four features of the
EI construct: appraisal of own emotions, emotional regula-
tion, emotional utilisation and optimism. For those report-
ing a history of ED, these associations remained significant,
whereas for those with no background of ED, correlations
between EAT-26 and emotional regulation and emotional
utilisation were not significant.
Findings inadults andyoung adults using
self‑report andability EI measures
Zysberg and Tell [72] used the SEIS [58] to test for EI and
the AVEI to measure EI ability [59]. Based on the prelimi-
nary evidence indicating an association between EI and ED,
they examined the mediation role of perceived control in the
EI-ED link. In general, the results indicated that perceived
control mediated the association between the EI and risk of
ED scores for both AN and BN.
Zysberg [73] also used the SEIS and the AVEI. The
author reported a correlation between the SEIS and two of
the three indexes of ED; after controlling statistically for the
potential shared variance, results showed a non-significant
association between SEIS and body dissatisfaction. No asso-
ciation was found with any of the variables, except for a
moderate association with body image. Although consider-
able adjustment was made for potential confounding vari-
ables, the AVEI showed a statistically moderate association
with disordered eating patterns.
Gardner, Quinton and Qualter [74] evaluated EI con-
structs with two different measures: a trait EI measure,
namely the MEIA [60] and a skill EI measure, the MSCEIT
Version 2.0 [63]. For both instruments, they used the total
score to measure the upper level, the factors to measure the
average level and the concrete facets to measure the lowest
level of EI. Their findings revealed a negative correlation
between the global trait EI and global bulimic symptoms,
and binge eating at the upper level of EI; however, they
found no correlation between bulimic symptoms and the
highest level of EI skill. At the intermediate and lower levels
of EI (factors and facets), they found negative correlations
with bulimic symptoms for both trait EI and EI skill.
Table 1 (continued)
Study Sample (N) EI scale Examined variables Statistical analyses Principal results Statistics
Hambrook etal. [75] 64 women; 32 AN group
(M = 31.63; SD = 11.46)
32 HC group
(M = 28.38; SD = 11.31)
MSCEIT – Eating disorders (EDE-Q)
– General Intelligence
– Independent t tests –The control group had a
significantly higher EI total
score compared to the AN
[t (62) = − 2.25; p < .05]
EQ-I Emotional Quotient Inventory [52]; EAT-26 Eating Attitudes Test [37], WLEIS Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale [56], PQEE Praeger Questionnaire Emotional Eating [41],
SEIS Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale [58], AVEI Audio–Visual Test Emotional Intelligence [59], EDI-II Eating Disorder Inventory II [45], FPQ Food Preoccupation Questionnaire [46],
MEIA Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment [60], MSCEIT 2.0 Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test [63], EDDS Eating Disorders Diagnostic Scale [44], EDE-Q
Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire [42]
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
1 3
Findings inadults andyoung adults using
ability EI measures
Hambrook, Brown and Tchanturia [75] used the MSCEIT
Version 2.0 [63], in a clinical trial with control group. The
main finding was that the AN group had a significantly
lower performance than the control group in terms of their
overall EI. The AN group also demonstrated a significantly
poorer EI in the MSCEIT change task, which measures the
understanding of how specific emotions can result from the
intensification of another feeling.
In agreement with Cohen’s [76] standard, the correlation
coefficients represent effect sizes from small (r = − .477;
p < .001) between emotional regulation and ED [70] to large
(r = .72; p < .001) between EI and emotional eating [69].
Findings intheyoung adults andadolescent
Our search identified four articles that analysed the relation-
ship between EI and ED in the young adults and adolescent
population following cross-sectional designs. All used self-
reported measures of EI traits. The description of the four
studies, the EI assessment tools and the main findings are
presented in Table2.
Findings inyoung adults andadolescents
using self‑report EI measures
Markey and Vander Wal [77] used the EQ-i: S [53]. The
results showed that a lower EI predicted significantly greater
bulimic symptomatology.
Filiare, Laure and Rouveix [78] also used the EQ-i [52].
They found that men with ED attitudes (athletes and control)
had lower levels of EI compared to groups without ED, in
the following factors: intrapersonal, adaptability, tolerance
to stress and general mood. They also found that athletes had
higher levels of EI subscale scores compared to the control
group (interpersonal and impulse control) and that athletes
with ED had significantly lower scores on the subscales of
happiness, flexibility, empathy and emotional self-awareness
in comparison with athletes without ED. In the group of
ED attitudes (athletes and control), the EAT-26 [37] was
negatively correlated with tolerance to stress, emotional
self-awareness and general mood, and positively with body
Pettit, Jacobs, Page and Porras [79] evaluated EI with the
reduced version of the TMMS-30 [55]. Their findings revealed
an inverse relationship between EI factors (clarity and repair)
and food concern/bulimia. Perception of EI factors combined
with gender was also significantly related to diet, food concern/
bulimia and general eating attitudes.
Li [80] used the WLEIS [56] in a version adapted to the
Chinese population [57]. The results showed a negative cor-
relation of moderate magnitude between EI and ED risk as
measured by the subscales of EAT-26 [37]. As main effects,
the results found that the girls and the obese group had a
significantly higher risk of ED than the boys and the under-
weight, normal and overweight groups. After controlling for
gender and body size as potential confounding variables, EI
predicted the risk of ED negatively; that is, subjects who
showed higher scores in EI scored lower in ED on the EAT-
26 questionnaire.
According to Cohen’s [76] standard, the correlation
coefficients represent small effect sizes (r = − .177; p < .01)
between clarity and bulimia/food concern [79] and large
ones (r = − .41; p < .001) between EI and ED risk [80].
Findings intheadolescent population
Our search identified two articles that analysed the rela-
tionship between EI and ED in the adolescent population,
following cross-sectional designs. Both studies used self-
reported measures of EI traits. The description of the two
studies, the EI assessment tools and the main findings are
presented in Table3.
Findings intheadolescent population using
self‑report EI measures
Zavala and López [81] used the EQ-I: YV to assess per-
ceived EI [54]. Their results showed significant negative
correlations between the total EI score and disposition to
ED, specifically in three of the four scales: intrapersonal,
stress management and adaptability. Findings also showed
significant differences between the sexes, with the disposi-
tion to ED being higher in women.
Peres, Corcos, Robin and Pham-Scottez [82] used the
EQ-I: YV [54] to analyse EI differences between a group
of girls diagnosed with AN, using interviews based on the
DSM-IV criteria and a control group. They found significant
differences between both groups on the scales for intraper-
sonal EI and general mood.
Findings intheadolescent andchild
We only found a single article that examined the relation-
ship between EI and ED in a sample of children and adoles-
cents between 10 and 17years of age. Cuesta, González and
García [83] used the Spanish version of the TEIQue-ASF
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
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Table 2 Studies on EI and ED (Adolescent and young adult population)
EQ-I Emotional Quotient Inventory [52] (S = short version [53], BULIT-R Bulimia Test Revised [39], EAT-26 Eating Attitudes Test [37], TMMS–30 Trait Meta Mood Scale [55], WLEIS Wong
and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale [56]
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001]
Study Sample (N) EI scale Examined variables Statistical analyses Principal results Statistics
Markey and
Vander Wal
154 female students
Age range = 17–23
(M = 18.66)
EQ-i:S Bar-on – Bulimic attitudes (BULIT-
– Alexithymia (TAS-20)
– Coping (COPE)
– Positive and negative
affect (PANAS-X)
– Affect Intensity (AIM)
– Multiple regression analyses With lower EI predicting
greater bulimic symptoma-
[F (1,152) = 15.55, p < .001,
R2 = .09]
Filaire etal. [78] 45 men; 20 professional
(M = 19.5, SD = 0.9)
25 students (M = 20.08,
SD = 0.7)
EQ-i Bar-On – Eating attitudes (EAT-26)
– Body image (BIAS-BD)
– Spearman correlation coef-
– Men with ED attitudes
(athlete and control) had
lower levels of EI compared
to the groups without ED
in factors: intrapersonal,
adaptability, stress to toler-
ance and general mood
M = 143.5(± 3.55) vs.
M = 153.05(± 2.9); p < .01
M = 86.3(± 3.2) vs.
M = 93.55(± 4.45); p < .05
M = 30.7(± 2.45) vs.
M = 35.3(± 2.2); p < .04
M = 49.45(± 2.85) vs.
M = 57.35(± 4.1); p < .04
Pettit etal. [79] 402 students (222 women and
180 men)
Age range = 18–24
TMMS 30 – Eating attitudes (EAT-26) – Multiple regression analyses – There was an inverse rela-
tionship between EI factors
(clarity and repair) and
bulimia/food concern
r = − .177; p < .01
r = − .151; p < .01
Li [80] 784 students (402 girls and
382 boys)
Age range: 15–20
(M = 17.12, SD = 1.32)
WLEIS – Eating attitudes (EAT-26)
– Social anxiety (LSAS)
– Pearson’s correlation coef-
– EI correlated negatively
with social anxiety and ED
– Social anxiety correlated
positively with ED risk
r = − .44; p < .001
r = − .41; p < .001
r = − .55; p < .001
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
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Table 3 Studies on EI and ED (Child and adolescent population)
EQ-I-YV Emotional Quotient Inventory-young version [54], MACI Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory-ED Scale [47], M.I.N.I. Kid 6.0. Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview Eat-
ing Disorder (module of the DSM-IV) [50], TEIQue-ASF Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Adolescent Short Form [65], EDI-3 Eating Disorder Inventory 3 [49], KDEF Karolinska
Directed Emotional Faces [66], CEBQ Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire [51]
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001
Study Sample (N) EI scale Examined variables Statistical analyses Principal results Statistics
Studies on EI and ED (adolescent population)
Zavala and López (2012)
829 adolescents
(435 girls and 394 boys)
Age range: 13–15
(M = 13.6, SD = 0. 64)
EQ-i: YV Bar-On – Eating disorders
– Pearson’s correlation
– Significant negative
relationship between EI
and total symptom score
ED. In scales: intraper-
sonal, stress manage-
ment, adaptability and
emotional coefficient
r =− .138**; p < .01
r = − 266**; p < .01
r = − .103**; p < .01
r = − .196**; p < .01
Peres etal. (2018) [82] 79 girls; 41 AN group
(M = 16.2, SD = 1.4)
Age range: 13.1–18.9
38 HC group (M = 15.84,
SD = 1.83)
Age range: 13.1–18.8)
EQ-i: YV Bar-On – Eating disorders
(M.I.N.I Kid.6.0)
– Depression and anxiety
– Interpersonal reactivity
– Alexithymia (TAS-20)
t student
– Linear regression
– Significant differences
between the AN and
control groups in EI
scales: intrapersonal and
general mood
[t (77) = 2.34; p < .05]
[t (77) = 8.69; p < .001]
Studies on EI and ED (adolescent and child population)
Cuesta etal. [83] 762 students; 382 preado-
(51.8% girls, 48.2% boys)
Age range: 10–12
(M = 10.55, SD = 0.60)
380 adolescents (47%
girls, 53% boys)
Age range: 12-17
(M = 13.53, SD = 1.25)
TEIQue-ASF – Eating disorders (EDI-
– Pearson’s correlation
– EI correlates signifi-
cantly and negatively
with total symptom
score ED
r =− .55**; p < .001 (girls)
r = − .39*; p < .05 (boys)
Studies on EI and ED (child population)
Koch and Pollatos [84] 66 children (32 girls and
34 boys)
Age range: 6–10
(M = 8.59, SD = 0.96)
Normal weight (M = 8.94,
SD = 0.79)
EQ-i:S: YV Bar-On
– Emotional eating
– Fluid intelligence
– Pearson’s correlation
– EI (intrapersonal and
interpersonal) did not
differ significantly
between the groups
(overweight/obesity and
normal weight).
[t (64) = .21; p = .838]
[t (64) = .41; p = .684]
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
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[65], via a cross-sectional design. They used self-reported
measures of EI traits.
Their findings indicated that the EI trait was significantly
and negatively correlated with the total scores of ED symp-
toms and with all the subscales of the EDI-3 [49] in pre-
adolescent boys, preadolescent girls and adolescents. After
controlling for the effect of BMI as a potential confounding
variable, the EI trait was a significant and predictive variable
of ED symptoms in all groups: preadolescent girls (22%),
adolescent girls (23%), preadolescent children (17%) and
adolescents (13%) (see Table3).
Findings inthechild population
We only found one article that, although it did not specifi-
cally analyse the relationship between EI and EDs, compared
emotional eating behaviour (an eating practice associated
with obesity risk) with EI and identification of facial emo-
tions in a sample of children between 6 and 10years of age.
Koch and Pollatos [84] evaluated the relationship between
EI and food imbalances in a sample of children using two
of the five scales (intrapersonal and interpersonal) of the
EQ-i: YV [54] via a cross-sectional design. They also used
the task from the KDEF [66]. To measure emotional eat-
ing, they used the CEBQ [51]. It is a parent-report measure.
Their findings indicated that EI did not differ significantly
between the groups of overweight/obese and normal weight
children; however, the group of overweight/obese children
scored significantly higher on the CEBQ (i.e., they reported
a high degree of emotional eating behaviour) than the group
of normal weight children. They also found significant nega-
tive correlations between intrapersonal and interpersonal
EI and reaction time in the recognition of facial emotions.
Similarly, excessive emotional eating and the success rate
in recognising sad faces in the KDEF task were negatively
correlated (see Table3).
In recent decades, a series of studies have examined the
impact of personality factors on the development and main-
tenance of ED [85]; more recently, the potential role of emo-
tions and emotional abilities in ED has attracted the atten-
tion of many researchers. The present review systematically
analysed fifteen articles published between 2007 and 2019
and examined the association between EI and ED in both
general and clinical populations. A negative relationship
between total EI dimensions and different ED symptoms was
reported; that is, individuals with high levels of EI reported
fewer eating behaviours and concerns than those with low
EI. As far as we know, this is the first study that summarises
the literature on associations between EI and ED. Reviewed
studies indicate a negative relationship between EI and ED
across different developmental stages, independently of
whether EI was measured by skill and self-report tests.
Mechanisms involved intherelationship
betweenEI andED
Our findings highlight some mechanisms involved in the
association of EI with ED. For example, Li [80] provided
results indicating that social anxiety partially mediates the
relationship between EI and the risk of ED. By adding social
anxiety to the model, the direct effect of EI on the risk of
ED decreased substantially, although it remained significant.
Emotionally intelligent individuals may be less afraid of
being evaluated negatively, thus decreasing the risk of ED.
Previous studies have indicated a close relationship between
social anxiety and ED [8693].
Two studies in our review considered additional
approaches along with examining the association between EI
and ED. Both involved data supporting the mediation of anx-
iety in the relationship between EI and ED. Hambrook etal.
[75] found that the performance of EI was closely related
to the level of self-reported anxiety. Their data suggested
that anxiety mediated the observed relationship between the
diagnosis of AN and EI. Similarly, prior studies found that
differences in alexithymia between AN and control groups
disappear after statistically controlling for anxiety [94, 95].
Deficits in identifying and communicating emotions in indi-
viduals with AN might, therefore, be secondary to personal
distress, rather than being attributed to the presence of AN.
Lower EI in people with AN might be attributed to higher
experienced anxiety, which would interfere with the abil-
ity to reason accurately about emotions and use emotional
information to make adaptive decisions in a social context.
Peres etal. [82], reported difficulties in emotional processing
in the AN group compared to the healthy control group, find-
ing that some of the differences at the Intrapersonal, stress
management, and the total score of EI, might be explained
by anxiety or depression.
The findings of Markey and Vander Wal [77] suggest that
there is a significant association between negative affect and
bulimic symptomatology, independent of EI association and
bulimic symptomatology. They did not find any significant
effect according to the level of EI between the association of
negative affect and ED. Previous research has identified neg-
ative affect as a predictor of binge eating [5] and coping as
a moderator in the relationship between negative affect and
binge eating [96]. Consequently, people with greater posi-
tive affect could face emotional situations in a more adaptive
way as a potential protective factor against developing ED.
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
1 3
Beyond examining the association between EI and ED,
Zysberg and Tell [72] considered an additional approach.
They argued that EI could affect perceived control and that
this would be positively associated with AN and negatively
associated with bulimic symptoms. Their findings partially
supported the mediating model. Perceived control mediated
associations between the EI and ED scores for AN and BN.
Perceived control is positively associated with EI and is a
concept that revolves around the effective management and
regulation of emotional reactions [97, 98]. Therefore, per-
ceived control might be a factor to take into consideration in
further research. Individuals who perceive greater self-con-
trol may be more effective at emotional self-regulation, thus
emphasising its potential role as a protective factor against
the development of some dysfunctional eating behaviours
such as BN and binge eating, while other people who per-
ceive high self-control may be at higher risk of AN.
Limitations ofincluded studies
We found several limitations when analysing the literature in
this field. First, there were limitations involving the hetero-
geneity of the EI instruments used. Nine different question-
naires were used to evaluate EI—six for trait EI, and three
for ability. Trait EI measures were used in nine studies; only
one study used ability EI measures, and four studies used
trait and ability measures jointly. Second, most of the studies
have not used diagnostic instruments to assess specific types
of ED, but they have used a wide range of different and heter-
ogeneous questionnaires to detect the risk of ED (i.e., eating
attitudes or behaviours). In general, 11 different measures
were used to evaluate these eating behaviours. Therefore, it
was not possible to provide empirical associations between
specific types of ED and EI abilities. In addition, due to the
heterogeneity of the instruments used for measuring EI and
ED/ED risk, the variety of samples used at different stages
of life and the multiple theoretical EI approaches employed,
it was not possible to conduct a meta-analysis study. The
instruments used to measure ED/ED risk do not consider
the changes included in the DSM-5. Third, all studies used
a cross-sectional design. The lack of prospective research
in this field thus limits interpretations of the relationship
between variables, hampering any casual inference. Fourth,
the age ranges of the samples of some of the selected stud-
ies were not well adjusted to a developmental age category,
causing overlapping with other age categories and thus not
allowing for an exhaustive and homogeneous classification
of studies according to age group samples. Therefore, future
studies should include samples in consonance with the con-
text of the characteristics of normal development, especially
in early and late adolescence. Finally, no study was found
on the specific association of EI and ED in children. Only
one study to date has examined the association of EI with
emotional eating behaviour as an eating style associated with
the risk of obesity in children.
Future research andpractical directions
Our review proposes a series of methodological gaps that
should be considered in future research to deepen the current
understanding of EI and ED. Zysberg and Tell [72] suggest
that there may be essential differences in the dynamics of
personal factors associated with ED behaviour in clinical
and non-clinical samples. Future studies should, therefore,
compare both samples. Similarly, while there is a body of
research examining the role of eating behaviours in non-
clinical samples, more research is needed to analyse the role
of EI in clinical samples [77]. There are potential gender
and age differences in EI, so future studies should examine
in depth how EI is differently associated with ED in women
and men, and in different developmental groups [83]. As EI
involves different EI abilities, further research might exam-
ine which EI subdimensions are most strongly associated
with ED symptoms [68]. In the same sense, Gardner etal.
[74] question the usefulness of prolonged evaluations of EI.
The inclusion of diagnostic instruments and DSM-5 criteria
when evaluating ED could provide more homogeneous data
adapted to the current situation.
These findings can help to boost further research in the
field of the conceptual validation of EI and in the study of
ED risk factors and symptoms. Certainly, more consist-
ent findings are necessary in both clinical and non-clinical
samples. Identifying potential risk factors could contribute
to the development of simpler and more effective measure-
ment instruments that could help to better understand psy-
chotherapeutic interventions. This would provide clinicians
with a potential intervention guide for individuals suffering
from ED, assisting them in their early identification and in
a promising intervention. Our systematic review thus pro-
vides some insightful information for the development of
preventive programmes based on EI to minimise the risk of
ED in populations potentially at risk, such as children and
The present systematic review suggests promising but chal-
lenging preliminary evidence of the associations between
EI and ED/ED risk across different stages of development.
Future longitudinal cohort investigations might be useful
for a theoretical understanding of the nature of EI and its
associations with various eating-related behaviours. If the
proposed model is supported, it could potentially be used to
Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
1 3
guide prevention programmes for individuals at risk of ED
and more precise interventions than those currently available
for individuals who suffer from ED.
What isalready known onthis subject?
Individuals with ED and at risk of ED usually report dif-
ficulties managing their own emotions. These emotional
deficits lead to the maintenance and development of ED
symptomatology. However, no previous systematic review
has synthesised the available evidence on the empirical link
between ED and EI.
What does this study add?
A summary view of the existing research on the relationship
between EI and ED/ED risk across developmental stages. A
negative relationship between EI dimensions and different
ED symptoms and attitudes was found across the included
studies. These results underline the need for including emo-
tional abilities in the development of prevention programmes
and therapeutic interventions for individuals with ED or
in at-risk situations that complement the existing cogni-
tive–behavioural approach.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest All the authors declare that they have No conflicts
of interest.
Research involving human participants and/or animals This article
does not contain any studies performed by any of the authors involv-
ing human participants or animals.
Informed consent For this type of study, formal consent is not required.
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... Tanto los antecedentes teóricos como la evidencia empírica han puesto de manifiesto que los déficits en el procesamiento y manejo de las emociones juegan un papel clave en la evolución de los TCA (Polivy, & Herman, 1993;Corstorphine, 2006;Fox, & Froom, 2009;Haynos, & Fruzzetti, 2011;Lavender et al., 2015;Rowsell, MacDonald, & Carter 2016). Particularmente, investigaciones de la última década, recogidas en recientes revisiones sistemáticas, ponen de manifiesto la estrecha relación existente entre la IE y los síntomas de TCA e informan que las habilidades emocionales son factores relevantes tanto en el desarrollo como en el mantenimiento de los TCA (Romero-Mesa, Peláez-Fernández, & Extremera 2021;Giusti et al., 2021). Estos hallazgos concuerdan con una reciente investigación meta-analítica que corrobora una asociación negativa general entre la IE y los TCA (Zhang, Wang, Wu, & He, 2022). ...
... El presente estudio amplía la comprensión del papel de la IE y las ERCE en los síntomas de los TCA. Nuestros hallazgos van en línea con los estudios que evidencian la estrecha relación existente entre la IE y los síntomas de TCA (Romero-Mesa, Peláez-Fernández, & Extremera 2021;Giusti et al., 2021). Asimismo, proporcionan apoyo a los investigadores que sostienen que la IE se asocia negativamente con ERCE desadaptativas (Martínez, Piqueras & Inglés, 2011) y que altos niveles de ERCE desadaptativas se asocian significativamente con los síntomas de TCA (Smith et al., 2018: Verschueren et al., 2021. ...
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La inteligencia emocional (IE) y las estrategias de regulación constituyen recursos personales relevantes para la prevención de los trastornos de conducta alimentaria (TCA). En concreto, las estrategias de regulación cognitivo emocional (ERCE) desadaptativas han mostrado vínculos positivos con criterios de TCA. Sin embargo, no existen estudios que analicen el potencial rol mediador de las ERCE en la relación entre IE y TCA. Nuestro objetivo fue analizar el papel mediador de las ERCE entre IE y TCA. La muestra estuvo compuesta por 516 adultos españoles entre población comunitaria y universitaria. Cumplimentaron una batería administrada de forma online que incluía medidas de IE, ERCE y sintomatología de TCA. Nuestros resultados mostraron que altos niveles de IE se asociaron positivamente con las ERCE adaptativas y negativamente con las ERCE desadaptativas y con síntomas de TCA. Adicionalmente, los análisis de mediación mostraron que las ERCE desadaptativas mediaron la relación entre la IE y los síntomas de TCA. Estos hallazgos sugieren que las personas con alta IE podrían informar menos sintomatología de los TCA, en parte, debido al menor uso de las ERCE desadaptativas. Finalmente, se discuten las implicaciones para evaluar y mejorar estos recursos psicológicos en los programas de prevención y tratamiento de los TCA.
... The aim of this study was to gain a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between EI and DEBs. The present meta-analysis improves on the previous review with the same topic and the meta-analysis with partial similarities in many ways (Kerr-Gaffney et al., 2019;Romero-Mesa et al., 2021). First, the current meta-analysis took a quantitative approach to analyze previous articles spanning up to 2021, with the aim of reaching a more definitive interpretation of the relationship between EI and DEBs. ...
... To our knowledge, the present study is the first to examine the relationship between EI and EDs/DEBs using a meta-analytic approach. The results showed a significant negative association between EI and EDs/DEBs, but with a small effect size, which is in accordance with the previously published review and related meta-analysis (Kerr-Gaffney et al., 2019;Romero-Mesa et al., 2021). In addition, the type of EI was found to be a significant moderator, and trait EI was a more important moderator in the relationship between EI and EDs/DEBs compared to ability EI. ...
Eating disorders are psychiatric disorders that have a significant negative impact on a person's physical and mental health. Emotional intelligence (EI) has been hypothesized to be negatively associated with disordered eating behaviors, however previous research on this hypothesis has shown contradictory results. Therefore, the current meta-analysis aimed at exploring the relationship between EI and disordered eating behaviors based on previous studies. Analysis of 20 studies using a three-level random-effects meta-analysis model revealed an overall negative association between EI and eating disorders, r = −0.17 (95% CI: −0.25, −0.08; p < .001), with a small effect size. Furthermore, subsequent moderator analyses revealed that the type of emotional intelligence (trait EI versus ability EI) helped explain the heterogeneity of the previous findings, with the association between trait EI and disordered eating (r = −0.23; 95% CI: −0.33, −0.13; p < .001) being significantly greater than the association between ability EI and disordered eating (r = −0.12; 95% CI: −0.22,. -0.03; p = .010), indicating that trait EI was more closely associated with disordered eating than ability EI. Overall, this study confirms the relationship between EI and disordered eating behaviors, suggesting that individuals with higher EI are less likely to have disordered eating behaviors.
... The results of this systematic mapping review showed TEI to be inversely associated with body image dissatisfaction, drive for thinness and bulimic symptoms in both preadolescents and adolescents. Findings are in line with other studies supporting TEI and EDs' association in youths [12,44,45] and adults [46][47][48][49][50]. Accordingly, a previous study conducted on a sample of college students found an independent association between TEI and body image dissatisfaction [25]. Body image is a multidimensional construct that involves perceptions, behaviours, cognitions and emotions related to an individual's body and, therefore, represents one of the most robust risk factors for the development of EDs [51,52]. ...
... The literature on developmental psychology reveals that emotional abilities constitute an important topic throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. A deficit in EI might interfere with these transitions in a way that might increase the prevalence and intensity of ED symptoms across developmental stages [45]. ...
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Abstract: Eating and weight disorders often develop early in life and cause a long-standing significant health burden. Given the documented role of emotional intelligence (EI) in shaping the body image and predicting the onset of eating disorders, knowledge of the mechanisms involved in EI among youth is fundamental to designing specific interventions for screening and prevention of obesity and eating disorders (EDs). The present systematic mapping review was aimed to explore and quantify the nature and distribution of existing research investigating the impact of EI on EDs in young people. A systematic search for relevant articles was conducted using PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO and Web of Science databases. The Appraisal tool for Cross-Sectional Studies (AXIS) was used to assess the included studies’ methodological quality. The included studies’ results were mapped based on stratification by age groups (children, preadolescents, and adolescents), population (clinical vs. non-clinical) and disordered eating outcomes. Nine studies were included, supporting the association between EI and body image dissatisfaction, ED risk and bulimic symptomatology, but not with anorexic symptoms. Research on children and clinical populations was scant. Further studies are needed to deepen the role of EI in the genesis and maintenance of EDs.
... La revisión sistemática propuesta por Romero y colaboradores, sugiere evidencia de asociaciones entre la IE y el riesgo de desórdenes de alimentación en diferentes etapas de desarrollo (Romero-Mesa et al., 2020). Por otro lado, tener una IE alta se relaciona con una mejor capacidad para controlar las emociones y hacer frente a las dificultades, lo que contribuye a una mejor salud mental (Kermani et al., 2013). ...
Full-text available
The demand for experience in the teaching-learning process causes academic stress. Emotional intelligence refers to a set of abilities that enable all people to use their emotions to guide thought and action, as well as to regulate impulses, moods, and feelings. Eating behavior is defined as normal behavior related to eating habits, food selection, culinary preparations, and ingested amounts. Does the stress-emotional intelligence relationship influence the subjects' eating habits? Our goal was to investigate the relationship between emotional intelligence, academic stress, and eating behavior among psychology and biology students at the University of Panama. We looked at the relationship between self-reported academic stress, clarity, attention, and emotional repair, as well as eating habits at the start and end of the semester. Higher academic stress perception scores can be observed throughout the semester and at the end of the semester. Females report higher levels of academic stress than males. In terms of degree program differences, biology students experience more academic stress at the start and end of the semester than psychology students. Students in psychology demonstrate greater emotional clarity and attention. Finally, there is no link between stress perception and eating behavior, nor between emotional intelligence dimensions and eating behavior. This is an argument to be approached with caution. This is due to the fact that the instrument used to assess eating behavior was not specifically designed to assess changes in eating patterns caused by changes in emotional and psychological state.
... Thus, our T A B L E 1 Gender differences in study variables T A B L E 2 Tested moderation models with self-esteem and EI on ED symptomatology for total, women, and men sample Total sample Women sample findings support the idea that self-esteem and EI show an interacting effect for explaining ED symptoms among women. These results are consistent with previous research (Giusti et al., 2021;Mora et al., 2017;Romero-Mesa et al., 2021). Prospective studies are needed to test whether self-esteem and emotional skills are factors in the development of ED symptoms among women. ...
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Objective: This research aimed to explore the moderating role of emotional intelligence (EI) in the relationship between self-esteem and eating disorders (ED) symptomatology. Method: A battery of online questionnaires was administered to a sample of 516 adults including university students and a community population. The sample, age range of 18-77 years (X = 38.90; SD = 14.76), was made up of 63% women and 32% men. Results: EI moderated the association between self-esteem and ED symptomatology for the total sample. However, a gender-specific analysis showed that the moderation effect was only significant for women. Specifically, when women reported a low level of self-esteem, those with high scores in EI reported lower scores in ED symptoms than those with low EI. Discussion: Our findings are discussed in terms of the need for future research to understand the different gender associations and to consider these differences in further intervention programs for reducing the risk of ED, in which training in emotional skills may be more beneficial for women than men.
... For example, some prior research has found that individuals with some EI deficits are more prone to display disordered eating attitudes and behaviors (Costarelli et al., 2009;Pettit et al., 2009;Filaire et al., 2010;Zysberg and Rubanov, 2010;Hambrook et al., 2012;Zavala and López, 2012;Zysberg, 2013;Zysberg and Tell, 2013;Gardner et al., 2014;Koch and Pollatos, 2015;Cuesta et al., 2017;Peres et al., 2018;Foye et al., 2019). In addition, recent systematic reviews have reported that these abilities are relevant factors in both the development and maintenance of ED (Romero-Mesa et al., 2020;Giusti et al., 2021). These findings provide some preliminary support for the role of emotions in disordered eating attitudes with a view to the prevention and management of ED and point to the potential use of EI measures to identify individuals at risk of ED. ...
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Past studies have reported emotional intelligence (EI) as a relevant factor in development and maintenance of eating disorders (ED), as well as in increasing self-esteem and reducing anxiety. Similarly, research has showed that anxiety and self-esteem are positively and negatively associated to ED criteria, respectively. However, no prior studies have yet tested the multiple intervening roles of both self-esteem and anxiety as potential mediators of the association between EI and ED symptomatology. The present study aims to bridge these gaps by testing a sequential path model. Specifically, we examine the potential sequential mediation effects of self-esteem-anxiety on the link between EI and ED. A sample composed of 516 Spanish undergraduate students and community adults completed measures of EI, self-esteem, anxiety, and ED symptomatology. The results show that high levels of EI were positively associated with self-esteem and negatively associated with anxiety and ED symptoms. Anxiety was positively associated to ED symptoms, while self-esteem levels were negatively linked to ED symptoms. Moreover, path analyses showed that self-esteem and anxiety fully mediated the relationship between EI and ED symptoms in sequence. These findings suggest that EI plays a key role in reducing symptomatology of ED through increased self-esteem and reduced anxiety symptoms, providing novel evidence regarding psychological mechanisms through which EI contributes to a reduction of ED symptomatology. Implications for assessing and improving these psychological resources in ED preventive programs are discussed.
Objective: Interpersonal difficulties are evidenced in Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and are thought to contribute to disease onset and maintenance, however, research in the framework of emotional competence is currently limited. Previous studies have often only used static images for emotion recognition tasks, and evidence is lacking on the relationships between performance-based emotional abilities and self-reported intra- and interpersonal emotional traits. This study aimed to test multimodal dynamic emotion recognition ability in AN and analyze its correlation with the psychometric scores of self- and other-related emotional competence. Method: A total of 268 participants (128 individuals with AN and 140 healthy controls) completed the Geneva Emotion Recognition Test, the Profile of Emotional Competence, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, and measures of general and eating psychopathology. Scores were compared between the two groups. Linear mixed effects models were utilized to examine the relationship between emotion recognition ability and self-reported measures and clinical variables. Results: Individuals with AN showed significantly poorer recognition of emotions of both negative and positive valence and significantly lower scores in all emotional competence dimensions. Beside emotion type and group, linear mixed models evidenced significant effects of interpersonal comprehension on emotion recognition ability. Discussion: Individuals with AN show impairment in multimodal emotion recognition and report their difficulties accordingly. Notably, among all emotional competence dimensions, interpersonal comprehension emerges as a significant correlate to emotion recognition in others, and could represent a specific area of intervention in the treatment of individuals with AN. Public significance: In this study, we evidence that the ability to recognize the emotions displayed by others is related to the level of interpersonal emotional competence reported by individuals with anorexia nervosa. This result helps in understanding the social impairments in people with anorexia nervosa and could contribute to advancements in the application of the training of emotional competence in the treatment of this disorder.
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Background Multiple published sources from around the world have confirmed an association between an array of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and other traumatic events with eating disorders (EDs) and related adverse outcomes, including higher morbidity and mortality. Methods In keeping with this Special Issue’s goals, this narrative review focuses on the ACEs pyramid and its purported mechanisms through which child maltreatment and other forms of violence toward human beings influence the health and well-being of individuals who develop EDs throughout the life span. Relevant literature on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is highlighted when applicable. Results At every level of the pyramid, it is shown that EDs interact with each of these proclaimed escalating mechanisms in a bidirectional manner that contributes to the predisposition, precipitation and perpetuation of EDs and related medical and psychiatric comorbidities, which then predispose to early death. The levels and their interactions that are discussed include the contribution of generational embodiment (genetics) and historical trauma (epigenetics), social conditions and local context, the ACEs and other traumas themselves, the resultant disrupted neurodevelopment, subsequent social, emotional and cognitive impairment, the adoption of health risk behaviors, and the development of disease, disability and social problems, all resulting in premature mortality by means of fatal complications and/or suicide. Conclusions The implications of these cascading, evolving, and intertwined perspectives have important implications for the assessment and treatment of EDs using trauma-informed care and trauma-focused integrated treatment approaches. This overview offers multiple opportunities at every level for the palliation and prevention of EDs and other associated trauma-related conditions, including PTSD.
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Purpose This study aims to explore the role of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and specific facets that may underpin the aetiology of disordered eating attitudes and behaviours, as a means to understand what aspects of these deficits to target within treatments. Methods Participants were recruited from the UK and Ireland. Among the sample of 355 participants, 84% were women and 16% were men. Regarding age, 59% were between 18 and 29, 30% were between 30 and 49, and 11% were 50 or older. Using a cross-sectional design, participants completed the Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test to measure levels of trait EI and The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) as a measure of eating disorder risk and the presence of disordered eating attitudes. Results EAT-26 scores were negatively correlated with total EI scores and with the following EI subscales: appraisal of own emotions, regulation of emotions, utilisation of emotions, and optimism. Also, compared to those without an eating disorder history, participants who reported having had an eating disorder had significantly lower total EI scores and lower scores on four EI subscales: appraisal of others emotions, appraisal of own emotions, regulation of emotions, and optimism. Conclusions Considering these findings, EI (especially appraisal of own emotions, regulation of emotions, and optimism) may need to be addressed by interventions and treatments for eating disorders. Level of evidence Level V, descriptive cross-sectional study.
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The present study aimed to examine the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI), social anxiety, and eating disorder risk as well as the effects of several demographic variables on social anxiety and eating disorder risk among adolescents in China. Seven hundred eighty-four senior high school students in China were sampled to participate in the survey, completing the measures of body mass index, Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26), Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale, and Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, and hierarchical regression with bootstrapping approach were used to examine the relationships between the studied variables. Adolescents’ EI negatively influenced their social anxiety and eating disorder risk; meanwhile, their social anxiety acted as a partial mediator between their EI and eating disorder risk. In addition, gender, grade, and body size all had main effects on social anxiety and eating disorder risk, and there were interaction effects both between gender and grade, and between gender and body size. These findings advance our comprehending of the formation mechanism of EDs and should be helpful to conduct effective, targeted intervention on EDs among adolescents.
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PurposeSocio-emotional difficulties have been observed on adult patients suffering from anorexia nervosa (AN). But researches with adolescents are scarce and non-congruent. The aim of this paper is to identify the socio-emotional difficulties that are encountered by AN during adolescence, and to isolate them from those encountered by control adolescents. Method41 AN and 38 control adolescents were assessed using the emotional quotient inventory by Bar-On, youth version (EQ-i: YV), the Toronto Alexithymia Questionnaire (TAS-20), the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), and anxiety and depression were controlled using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). ResultsPersonal distress remains the main difference between the two groups, even when depression and anxiety are controlled. Intrapersonal difficulties are observed in the AN group, as well as alexithymic traits. Conclusion Research on AN has to focus on the socio-emotional difficulties during adolescence, to properly identify which difficulties are linked to that life period, and which are a trait of AN. Level IIIEvidence obtained from well-designed cohort or case–control analytic studies, preferably from more than one center or research group.
Emotion regulation (ER) refers to attempts to influence emotions in ourselves or others. Over the past several decades, ER has become a popular topic across many subdisciplines within psychology. One framework that has helped to organize work on ER is the process model of ER, which distinguishes 5 families of strategies defined by when they impact the emotion generation process. The process model embeds these ER strategies in stages in which a need for regulation is identified, a strategy is selected and implemented, and monitoring occurs to track success. Much of the research to date has focused on a strategy called cognitive reappraisal, which involves changing how one thinks about a situation to influence one's emotional response. Reappraisal is thought to be generally effective and adaptive, but there are important qualifications. In this article, we use reappraisal as an example to illustrate how we might consider 4 interrelated issues: (a) the consequences of using ER, either when instructed or spontaneous; (b) how ER success and frequency are shaped by individual and environmental determinants; (c) the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that make ER possible; and (d) interventions that might improve how well and how often people use ER. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
Eating disorders (EDs) often develop during adolescence and early adulthood but may persist, arise, or reemerge across the life span. Research and treatment efforts primarily focus on adolescent and young adult populations, leaving large knowledge gaps regarding ED symptoms across the entire developmental spectrum. The current study uses network analysis to compare central symptoms (i.e., symptoms that are highly connected to other symptoms) and symptom pathways (i.e., relations among symptoms) across five developmental stages (early adolescence, late adolescence, young adulthood, early-middle adulthood, middle-late adulthood) in a large sample of individuals with EDs (N = 29,902; N = 32,219) in two network models. Several symptoms related to overeating, food avoidance, feeling full, and overvaluation of weight and shape emerged as central in most or all developmental stages, suggesting that some core symptoms remain central across development. Despite similarities in central symptoms, significant differences in network structure (i.e., how symptom pathways are connected) emerged across age groups. These differences suggest that symptom interconnectivity (but not symptom severity) might increase across development. Future research should continue to investigate developmental symptom differences in order to inform treatment for individuals with EDs of all ages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Los humanos estamos dotados de esta capacidad para intuir lo que otras personas piensan y desean, pero lo hacemos de forma tan asidua y automática que no somos conscien-tes del complejo proceso de inferencia mental realizado. Nos parece natural que nuestra hija infiera que es un helado de chocolate y no el batido de fresa lo que desea el niño. Es necesario tropezar con alguna disfunción en el proceso para apreciar el enorme esfuerzo psicológico que significa hacerlo de forma correcta. Si nuestro hija hubiera tenido, por ejemplo, el síndrome de Asperger la inferencia no habría sido tan sencilla para ella y, quizá, nos habría preguntado por qué nos estaba mirando el niño (Baron-Cohen, 2005).
Although the literature indicates that eating disorders (EDs) are associated with emotional problems and difficulties, there is scant research on the role of trait emotional intelligence (EI) in general preadolescent and adolescent populations. For these reasons, the main aim of this study was to analyze the relationships between trait EI, body dissatisfaction, bulimic symptoms and drive for thinness in preadolescents (N = 382) and adolescents (N = 380). Participants completed the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Adolescent Short Form, the Eating Disorder Inventory-3 and were weighed and measured to calculate their body mass index (BMI). Trait EI significantly predicted body dissatisfaction and ED symptoms in both samples, even after controlling for the effects of BMI. Indeed, in preadolescent and adolescent girls and in preadolescent boys, trait EI predicted bulimic symptoms over and above body dissatisfaction. Results suggest that perceptions and beliefs about emotional abilities may have an important role in ED symptoms in preadolescents and adolescents.
Previous research has established a robust relationship between symptoms of social anxiety and disordered eating. However, the mechanisms that may underpin this relationship are unclear. Appearance-based rejection sensitivity (ABRS)—the tendency to anxiously expect and overreact to signs of appearance-based rejection—may be a crucial explanatory mechanism, as ABRS has been shown to maintain social anxiety symptoms and predict disordered eating. We therefore tested whether ABRS mediated the relationship between social anxiety symptoms and various indices of disordered eating (over-evaluation of weight/shape, restraint, binge eating, compulsive exercise, and vomiting). Data from community-based females (n = 299) and males (n = 87) were analyzed. ABRS was shown to mediate the relationship between social anxiety and the over-evaluation, restraint, binge eating, and compulsive exercise frequency, but not vomiting. These effects also occurred for both females and males separately. Findings demonstrated that ABRS may be an important mechanism explaining why socially anxious individuals report elevated symptoms of disordered eating. Future research testing all proposed mediating variables of the social anxiety-disordered eating link in a single, integrative model is required to identify the most influential mechanisms driving this relationship.