An examination of the representativeness assumption for twin studies of eating pathology and internalizing symptoms.

Little research has investigated whether the twin representativeness assumption (that results from twin research generalize to singletons) holds for eating pathology and internalizing symptoms. This study compared disordered eating, depression, and anxiety among young adult female twins versus singletons. Participants included 292 twins and 997 singletons in three samples. Questionnaires included the Minnesota Eating Behavior Survey, Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. We examined mean differences between twins’ and singletons’ scores, after adjusting for age, body mass index, and ethnicity. We found statistically significant mean differences on psychopathology, with twins reporting less disordered eating and internalizing symptoms compared with singletons. Effect sizes of these mean differences were small to moderate. Our results suggest that twins report less disordered eating and internalizing symptoms than singletons, which, combined with the generally small effect sizes, indicate that results from twin samples generalize to singletons.


Melissa Munn-Chernoff
Kristin von Ranson
Kristen M. Culbert
Christine L Larson
S. Alexandra Burt
Kelly Klump