Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

An investigation of temperament endophenotype candidates for early emergence of the core cognitive component of eating disorders

  • S. M. Wilksch (a1) and T. D. Wade (a1)

This study was designed to investigate potential temperament endophenotypes for clinically significant importance of shape and weight.


Seven temperament risk factors for eating disorders and the Eating Disorder Examination were assessed in 699 female twins aged 12–15 years. Each variable was evaluated against the following endophenotype criteria: associated with illness in the general population; found in non-affected family members at a higher rate than in the general population; and, heritable.


All seven variables were significantly associated with clinically significant importance of shape and weight, while thin-ideal internalization, ineffectiveness, body dissatisfaction and sensitivity to punishment were found at significantly elevated levels in non-affected twins, when controlling for sister's temperament score. These four variables had genetic correlations with importance of shape and weight, ranging from 0.48 to 0.95.


Future research should evaluate the stability of the identified endophenotypes and their utility for predicting significant growth in importance of shape and weight, and also whether different endophenotypes emerge when the importance of weight and shape reaches its peak in adolescents, around 15 to 16 years of age.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: S. M. Wilksch, Ph.D., School of Psychology, Flinders University, PO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA, 5001, Australia. (Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

L Bellodi , MC Cavallini , S Bertelli , D Chiapparino , C Riboldi , E Smeraldi (2001). Morbidity risk for obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders in first-degree relatives of patients with eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 158, 563569.

RJ Bryant-Waugh , PJ Cooper , CL Taylor , BD Lask (1996). The use of the eating disorder examination with children: a pilot study. International Journal of Eating Disorders 19, 391397.

CM Bulik , J Hebebrand , A Keski-Rahkonen , KL Klump , T Reichborn-Kjennerud , S E Mazzeo , TD Wade (2007). Genetic epidemiology, endophenotypes, and eating disorder classification. International Journal of Eating Disorders 40 (Suppl.), S52S60.

TJ Cole , KM Flegal , D Nicholls , AA Jackson (2007). Body mass index cut offs to define thinness in children and adolescents: international survey. British Medical Journal 335, 112.

PJ Cooper , CG Fairburn (1993). Confusion over the core psychopathology of bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders 13, 385389.

PJ Cooper , I Goodyer (1997). Prevalence and significance of weight and shape concerns in girls aged 11–16 years. British Journal of Psychiatry 171, 542544.

DL Cusumano , J Thompson (2001). Media influence and body image in 8–11 year-old boys and girls: a preliminary report on Multidimensional Media Influence Scale. International Journal of Eating Disorders 29, 3744.

CG Fairburn , Z Cooper (2007). Thinking afresh about the classification of eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders 40, S107S110.

RO Frost , P Marten , C Lahart , R Rosenblate (1990). The dimensions of perfectionism. Cognitive Therapy and Research 14, 449468.

DM Garner , MP Olmstead , J Polivy (1983). Development and validation of a multidimensional Eating Disorder Inventory for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders 2, 1534.

ES Gershon , LR Goldin (1986). Clinical methods in psychiatric genetics: I. Robustness of genetic marker investigative strategies. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 74, 113118.

JA Goldfein , B Walsh , E Midlarsky (2000). Influence of shape and weight on self-evaluation in bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders 27, 435445.

SG Gowers , A Shore (2001). Development of weight and shape concerns in the aetiology of eating disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry 179, 236242.

C Jacobi , C Hayward , M de Zwaan , H C Kraemer , W Agras (2004). Coming to terms with risk factors for eating disorders: application of risk terminology and suggestions for a general taxonomy. Psychological Bulletin 130, 1965.

DC Jimerson , MD Lesem , WH Kaye , TD Brewerton (1992). Low serotonin and dopamine metabolite concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid from bulimic patients with frequent binge episodes. Archives of General Psychiatry 49, 132138.

H Larsson , P Lichtenstein , J Larsson (2006). Genetic contributions to the development of ADHD subtypes from childhood to adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 45, 973981.

LR Lilenfeld , WH Kaye , CG Greeno , KR Merikangas , K Plotnicov , C Pollice , R Rao , M Strober , CM Bulik , L Nagy (1998). A controlled family study of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: psychiatric disorders in first-degree relatives and effects of proband comorbidity. Archives of General Psychiatry 55, 603610.

T Reichborn-Kjennerud , CM Bulik , KS Kendler , E Roysamb , K Tambs , S Torgersen , JR Harris (2004). Undue influence of weight on self-evaluation: a population-based twin study of gender differences. International Journal of Eating Disorders 35, 123132.

C Schoemaker , T van Strien , C van der Staak (1994). Validation of the Eating Disorders Inventory in a nonclinical population using transformed and untransformed responses. International Journal of Eating Disorders 15, 387393.

R Shafran , M Lee , E Payne , CG Fairburn (2006). The impact of manipulating personal standards on eating attitudes and behaviour. Behaviour Research and Therapy 44, 897906.

PD Slade (1982). Towards a functional analysis of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. British Journal of Clinical Psychology 21, 167179.

DS Thordarson , AS Radomsky , S Rachman , R Shafran , CN Sawchuk , A Hakstian (2004). The Vancouver Obsessional Compulsive Inventory (VOCI). Behaviour Research and Therapy 42, 12891314.

R Torrubia , C Avila , J Molto , X Caseras (2001). The Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire (SPSRQ) as a measure of Gray's anxiety and impulsivity dimensions. Personality and Individual Differences 31, 837862.

J Treasure , C Lopez , M Roberts (2007). Endophenotypes in eating disorders: moving toward ecologically based diagnosis and treatment focussed on pathophysiology. Pediatric Health 1, 171181.

AR Tyrka , I Waldron , JA Graber , J Brooks-Gunn (2002). Prospective predictors of the onset of anorexic and bulimic syndromes. International Journal of Eating Disorders 32, 282290.

T van Strien , M Ouwens (2003). Validation of the Dutch EDI-2 in one clinical and two nonclinical populations. European Journal of Psychological Assessment 19, 6684.

TD Wade , S Byrne , R Bryant-Waugh (2008). The Eating Disorder Examination: norms and construct validity with young and middle adolescent girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders. Published online: 23 April 2008. doi:10.1002/eat.20526.

TD Wade , RD Crosby , NG Martin (2006). Use of latent profile analysis to identify eating disorder phenotypes in an adult Australian twin cohort. Archives of General Psychiatry 63, 13771384.

TD Wade , S Davidson , JA O'Dea (2003). A preliminary controlled evaluation of a school-based media literacy program and self-esteem program for reducing eating disorder risk factors. International Journal of Eating Disorders 33, 371383.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 16 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 114 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.