Hasty decision-making in individuals at higher risk of developing an eating disorder

Ryan P. Balzan, Madeline Gilder, Tenille Nancarrow, Teri Mavrangelos, Tracey D. Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives: The Jumping to Conclusions (JTC) bias is the tendency to make hasty decisions based on limited evidence and may contribute to the formation of over-valued beliefs about the importance of weight, shape and eating. Previous research investigating the JTC bias in clinical eating disorder samples, as assessed by the beads task, is inconclusive. The current study investigated the JTC bias in a non-clinical sample of undergraduate students identified as being lower or higher risk of developing an eating disorder. The study used a more reliable ‘distractor’ beads task that also incentivised hastier decisions by elevating the pressure of the task. Methods: Female undergraduate students (N = 156, 48%, classified as higher risk) completed a pressure and non-pressure distractor beads task, along with measures of weight concern and body-image flexibility. Results: Higher risk participants displayed a hastier decision-making style than lower risk participants. Task pressure elicited a hastier decision-making style across the whole sample, however, was unable to distinguish between higher and lower eating disorder risk status. Limitations: Interpretation of findings are limited to non-clinical samples and may not generalise to clinical eating disorder populations. Conclusions: Findings suggest the need for replication in a clinical eating disorder sample using the distractor beads task. Future research should investigate whether eating disorder salient stimuli elicits a stronger bias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101717
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Beads task
  • Cognitive bias
  • Disordered eating
  • Eating disorders
  • Jumping to conclusions


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