College students' mental models for recognizing anorexia and bulimia nervosa

Jennifer S. Hunt, Alexander J. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Knowledge about eating disorders influences lay people's ability to recognize individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) and refer them to professional treatment. We assessed mental models (stored knowledge) of AN and BN in 106 college students. Results indicated that most students have general, but not specific, information about AN and BN's symptoms, consequences, causes, duration, and cures. They also believe that people with eating disorders tend to be young, White women. These findings suggest that lay recognition of eating disorders may be based primarily on observations of dysfunctional eating behaviors and therefore facilitated by additional knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-300
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2007


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Health attitudes
  • Mental models of illness

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