Discrepancies Between Explicit Feelings of Power and Implicit Power Motives Are Related to Anxiety in Women With Anorexia Nervosa

Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2021)
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Abstract

BackgroundSeveral studies identified low subjective feelings of power in women with anorexia nervosa. However, little is known about implicit power motives and the discrepancy between explicit feelings of power and implicit power motives in AN.AimThe study investigated the discrepancy between explicit feelings of power and implicit power motives and its relationship to anxiety in patients with AN.MethodFifty-three outpatients and inpatients with AN and 48 participants without AN were compared regarding subjective feelings of power and anxiety. Explicit power [investigated with the Personal Sense of Power Scale and a visual analog scale ], implicit power motives [investigated with the Multi-Motive Grid ] and trait anxiety [measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory ], were assessed.ResultsExplicit feelings of power were lower in patients with AN compared to non-AN participants. No differences in implicit power motives were found when comparing the groups against each other. However, looking at the groups separately, women with AN had similar levels of implicit fear of losing power and hope for power, whereas woman without AN had significantly lower fear of losing power than hope for power. Focusing on discrepancies between powerful feelings and power motives, results were mixed, depending on the subscale of the MMG. Lastly, discrepancies between implicit power motives and explicit feelings of power were positively correlated with trait anxiety in AN patients.ConclusionThese findings underline that individuals with AN display significantly lower explicit feelings of power, however, they show similar implicit power motives compared to individuals without AN. The discrepancy between explicit feelings of power and implicit power motives is related to anxiety in AN and may represent a vulnerability factor to illness maintenance.

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