The relationship between decision-making and perfectionism in obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders

Christina L. Boisseau*, Heather Thompson-Brenner, Elizabeth M. Pratt, Todd J. Farchione, David H. Barlow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders (EDs) show phenotypic similarities and have been independently associated with deficits in decision-making and maladaptive perfectionism. However, research directly comparing the two disorders is sparse and the significance of observed similarities remains in question. Therefore, the present study compared decision-making in OCD and EDs in relationship to perfectionistic personality traits. Methods: Sixty-one women were enrolled in the study comprising 3 mutually exclusive groups: 19 with OCD, 17 with EDs, and 21 healthy controls. Decision-making performance on the Iowa Gambling Task under two conditions, ambiguity and risk, was examined in relationship to perfectionistic traits. Results: Behavioral results indicated that EDs participants, relative to both OCD and control participants, were impaired in decision-making under conditions of risk. Heightened perfectionism was associated with less risky decision-making in OCD, but more risky decision-making in EDs. Limitations: Sample size was small and all participants were women, which may limit generalizability. Conclusion: Results support decision-making deficits in EDs, which may be related to a dysfunctional determination of risk versus reward. This study is the first to suggest that the relationship between perfectionism and risk taking may manifest differently in these phenotypically similar disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-321
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Decision-making
  • Eating disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Perfectionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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