Construct validity of the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale among women high in eating disorder symptoms: a cross-sectional study

Abstract

Purpose

The Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS), a measure of the ability to identify and describe one’s own and others’ emotions, may complement work with women with disordered eating symptoms. The study purpose was to (a) examine differences in hand (LEAS) versus computerized (e-LEAS) scoring methods and (b) examine the e-LEAS’ psychometric properties, including convergent and discriminant validity, among women endorsing eating disorder symptoms.

Methods

Forty women (ages 18–21) scoring high on a self-report measure of disordered eating symptoms completed the LEAS and measures of convergent validity including a self-report measure of alexithymia (the perceived ability to identify and describe one’s own emotions) and a measure of facial affect recognition as well as discriminant validity, including affect and facial memory. Inter-rater reliability was assessed via a two-way mixed effects model and correlations between the LEAS and the study constructs were examined.

Results

Computerized scoring (e-LEAS) offered benefits over hand scoring and correlations between LEAS and e-LEAS were statistically significant. Better total emotional awareness scores on the e-LEAS were significantly associated with more perceived difficulty identifying and describing emotions. Better total emotional awareness scores were also significantly associated with better facial memory and greater depression scores. The e-LEAS showed weak associations with facial affect recognition.

Conclusion

The e-LEAS offers practical advantages over the LEAS in the assessment of emotional awareness among women endorsing eating disorder symptoms. Results suggest that the e-LEAS measures the ability to describe emotional experiences in oneself and others, but not facial affect recognition.

Level of evidence

Level V: Evidence obtained from a cross-sectional descriptive study.

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Funding

The present study did not receive any funding and the authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. We would like to acknowledge Katherine Kriegshauser for her consultation and Noel Elrod for her role in programming. The data that support the findings from this study are available upon request from the corresponding author (JVW). The data are not publically available as the data are part of a larger dataset currently being analyzed.

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Correspondence to Jillon S. Vander Wal.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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The study received ethical approval from the Insititutional Review Board at Saint Louis University and was conduced in acord with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendsments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Vander Wal, J.S., Soulliard, Z.A. & Kauffman, A.A. Construct validity of the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale among women high in eating disorder symptoms: a cross-sectional study. Eat Weight Disord (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00945-0

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Keywords

  • Eating disorders
  • Alexithymia
  • Theory of mind
  • Affect
  • Emotion regulation