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How Can Social Mentality Theory Help Us Understand Eating Disorder Presentations? A Scoping Review

  • Georgina Mullen (a1) (a2) (a3) and Gary O'Reilly (a1)


This scoping review used social mentality theory (SMT) as a framework to identify and integrate relevant eating disorder systematic reviews and meta-analyses. A systematic search of the PsycINFO database was conducted, using terms from SMT and eating disorder literature. Eighteen systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria. Findings suggest that those with eating disorders also experience a number of relationship difficulties, in childhood and/or adulthood, related to attachment style, caregiver experiences, family functioning, social rank, social cognition, and self-compassion. The identification of these social difficulties is established in the eating disorder literature. SMT can provide a theoretical framework to understand how evolved motives to relate to others may contribute to these difficulties.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Georgina Mullen, University College Dublin, School of Psychology, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland. Email:


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References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the review.

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