Heightened sensitivity to punishment and reward in anorexia nervosa

Glashouwer, K. A., Bloot, L., Veenstra, E. M., Franken, I. H. A. & de Jong, P. J., Apr-2014, In : Appetite. 75, p. 97-102 6 p.

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  • Heightened sensitivity to punishment and reward in anorexia nervosa

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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate reinforcement sensitivity in anorexia nervosa (AN). It was tested whether self-reported punishment (PS) and reward sensitivity (RS) differed between adolescents with AN and healthy controls, and/or between AN-subtypes. In addition, the predictive validity of PS and RS was examined for AN symptoms one year later.

METHOD: In total, 165 female adolescents admitted for treatment of AN or eating disorder not otherwise specified resembling AN and 72 controls participated in the study. Participants completed measurements for eating disorder severity and the Sensitivity to Punishment/Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire (SPSRQ). Percentage of underweight and severity of AN symptoms were measured again after one year in individuals with AN.

RESULTS: Individuals with AN scored higher on PS and RS than controls. In addition, the AN purging type showed higher PS than the AN restrictive type, whereas there were no differences in RS between AN-subtypes. Regression analyses indicated that PS and RS were independently associated with the degree of eating disorder symptoms, whereas only PS was related to percentage underweight. Yet, neither RS nor PS were related to percentage of underweight and AN symptoms after one year.

DISCUSSION: Although the present study clearly demonstrated that heightened punishment and reward sensitivity are both linked to AN, there was no evidence that these characteristics are also involved in the course of AN symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2014


  • Adolescent, Anorexia Nervosa, Case-Control Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, Predictive Value of Tests, Punishment, Questionnaires, Reward, Thinness

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