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Interpretive Biases for Ambiguous Information in Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  • Ulrike Buhlmann, Sabine Wilhelm, Richard J. McNally, Brunna Tuschen-Caffier, Lee Baer and Michael A. Jenike...


Anxiety-disordered patients and individuals with high trait anxiety tend to interpret ambiguous information as threatening. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether interpretive biases would also occur in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is characterized by a preoccupation with imagined defects in one's appearance. We tested whether BDD participants, compared with obsessive-compulsive disorder participants and healthy controls, would choose threatening interpretations for ambiguous body-related, ambiguous social, and general scenarios. As we hypothesized, BDD participants exhibited a negative interpretive bias for body-related scenarios and for social scenarios, whereas the other groups did not. Moreover, both clinical groups exhibited a negative interpretive bias for general scenarios.


Corresponding author

Please direct all correspondence to: Sabine Wilhelm, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital-East, OCD Clinic / Department of Psychiatry, Building 149, 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129. Tel: 617-724-6146, Fax: 617-726-4078, E-mail:


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