Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wu, Kevin D.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


There are many similarities between the presentations of individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and individuals with eating pathology. These include similar obsessive thoughts, repetitive actions, and shared personality characteristics, such as perfectionism. However, similarities may extend beyond that of DSM-based symptomatology to include an important cognitive process called thought-action fusion (TAF). Thought-action fusion is a construct derived from the OCD literature wherein individuals feel that there may be a connection between their thoughts and real-world outcomes. There has been considerable research illustrating the impact TAF has on individuals with OCD, both in terms of development and maintenance of obsessions and compulsions. Studies have illustrated that the experience of TAF is not limited to individuals with OCD. In this context, individuals who present with eating disorders offer an interesting – and perhaps important – population to study. The current study sought to examine the degree to which TAF relates to both OCD symptoms and eating disorder symptoms, using an explicitly dimensional/correlational approach.

Seventy undergraduate students from Northern Illinois University were recruited for this in-person study. Participants completed a number of questionnaires, as well as the Sentence Task that is thought to be a behavioral induction of TAF. Per self-report symptom question- naires, there was no significant relationship between TAF and symptoms of eating disorders (p = .05), whereas there were significant correlations between the TAFS and symptoms of OCD and symptoms of depression. The Sentence Task did significantly increase self-reported state anxiety levels from pre- to post-Task, but no symptom scores—including the TAFS—were able to significantly predict the magnitude of that change, calling into question the construct validity of the Task. Limitations of the present study are considered, as well as implications for future research.


125 pages




Northern Illinois University

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