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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Dr. Jessica Werthmann

Dr. Jessica Werthmann

University of Freiburg
Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology
Junior Fellow
October 2018 - July 2019


Dr. Jessica Werthmann focuses on studying the influence of context, emotion, motivation and cognition on disordered eating behaviour and body dissatisfaction in subclinical and clinical groups with the aim to develop innovative treatment options targeting mechanisms of eating disorders. She completed her undergraduate training in psychology (BSc, MSc) at Maastricht University. For her PhD, Dr Werthmann studied the role of food-related attention bias for eating behaviour and weight. Based on this research she developed an attention-training that experimentally manipulates attention processes allowing to test causal effects of attention on eating behavior. After her PhD, Dr Werthmann pursued this research interest, funded by a Rubicon-fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) and translated this experimental work to a novel, clinical intervention targeting biased attention in people with Anorexia Nervosa. She also received funding by the Brain and Behaviour Foundation to extend this research line with a neuroscience focus. Moreover, her current research also concerns the methodology of attention assessment and the evaluation of novel treatment options for adults and adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa. Currently, Dr Werthmann works as post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Psychology, Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg.

For a full list pf publications, please see:

Selected Publications

  • Field, M., Werthmann, J., Franken, I., Hofmann, W., Hogarth, L., & Roefs, A. (2016). The role of attentional bias in obesity and addiction. Health Psychology, 35, 767-780.
  • Werthmann, J., Jansen, A., & Roefs, A. (2016). Make up your mind about food: A healthy mindset attenuates attention for high-calorie food in restrained eaters. Appetite, 105, 53-59.
  • Werthmann, J., Jansen, A, Vreugdenhil, A.C. Nederkoorn, C., Schnys, G., & Roefs, A. (2015). Food through the child's eye: an eye-tracking study on attentional bias for food in healthy-weight children and children with obesity. Health Psychology, 34 (12), 1123 – 1132.
  • Werthmann, J., Jansen, A. & Roefs, A. (2015). Worry or craving? A selective review of evidence for food-related attention biases in obese individuals, eating disorder patients, restrained eaters and healthy samples. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 74 (2), 99 - 114.
  • Werthmann, J., Field, M., Roefs, A., Nederkoorn, C., & Jansen, A. (2014). Attention bias for chocolate increases chocolate consumption - An attention bias modification study. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 45, 136-143

FRIAS Research Project

Challenge accepted - Disentangling the link between emotion regulation and body dissatisfaction

Body dissatisfaction is the most consistent and the strongest risk factor for the development of an eating disorder (ED) and a transdiagnostic core feature of EDs. EDs are common among women and characterized by high chronicity, high comorbidity, high mortality and concatenated medical problems. Accordingly, it is important to establish new treatment innovations targeting core clinical features of EDs. Emerging evidence indicates that emotion regulation (ER) strategies can successfully decrease body dissatisfaction, yet the cognitive mechanisms underlying this effect are unclear. A potential candidate mechanism could be attention allocation towards (negative) body-related information, a cognitive process that is highly associated with body dissatisfaction. However, currently, it is unclear a.) how adaptive emotion regulation, specifically the acceptance of negative emotions related to body image, affects further processing of body-related information and b.) if attention allocation towards negative body information is a process that is malleable through emotion regulation strategies. Accordingly, the proposed project therefore aims to test experimentally if an acceptance-based ER training (versus standard control ER training) influences attention deployment towards body-related information and body dissatisfaction.