Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 678–687 | Cite as

A Feeling You Can’t Let Go: Temporal Stability and Vulnerability to Thought–Shape Fusion in Eating Disorders

  • Catherine Ouellet-Courtois
  • Jennifer S. Coelho
  • Adam S. Radomsky
  • Mimi Israël
  • Howard Steiger
Original Article


Thought–shape fusion (TSF) is a belief that entails perceptions of weight gain, moral transgression, and body dissatisfaction when thinking about food consumption. The objectives of the current study were to (1) investigate whether high TSF endorsement is associated with differences in cognitive, affective and behavioural reactions to a TSF induction in comparison to those who are low in TSF, and (2) evaluate whether TSF shows temporal stability. TSF was assessed in 32 individuals with eating disorders over a 1-month period. Participants were classified as either low (n = 16) or high (n = 16) in trait TSF. Participants attended three sessions (baseline, experimental session, and follow-up), and were exposed to a TSF induction during the experimental session. High correlations were found for trait TSF scores between baseline and follow-up appointments. Furthermore, high TSF individuals were more vulnerable to the induction, with higher negative affect and state TSF, and more food-related thoughts at follow-up in comparison to those low in TSF. These findings indicate that TSF is a stable belief holding clinical relevance.


Thought–shape fusion Cognitive distortions Eating disorders Clinical cut-off 



The authors would like to thank Samantha Wilson for her help with coordination of this research project, as well as the staff at the Eating Disorder Program at the Douglas Institute for their help with recruitment. This research was supported by the Douglas Mental Health University Institute Foundation. This study was approved by the Ethics Committee at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.

Conflict of Interest

Catherine Ouellet-Courtois, Jennifer S. Coelho, Adam S. Radomsky, Mimi Israël and Howard Steiger declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Participants provided informed consent before enrolling in the study, and were debriefed upon study completion. Participants were also informed that they could withdraw from the study at any point.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Ouellet-Courtois
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jennifer S. Coelho
    • 2
    • 3
  • Adam S. Radomsky
    • 4
  • Mimi Israël
    • 3
  • Howard Steiger
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Psychology and NeuroscienceMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySimon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Douglas Mental Health InstituteMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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