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Objective: Adolescence and young adulthood are critical time periods for the development of an eating disorder (Dakanalis et al., 2017). Eating expectancies that eating helps manage negative affect (EE; learned associations that eating manages negative emotions), negative affect (NA; negative emotions, such as sadness, guilt, and fear), and repetitive negative thinking (RNT; recurrent intrusive negative thoughts about past or future events) are all predictive of eating disorder behaviors, such as binge eating (Bruce et al., 2009, Berg et al., 2017, McEvoy et al., 2019). However, it is less clear how these risk factors may impact one another to influence the development of eating disorder symptoms. Examining the interactions of EE, NA, and RNT may provide insight into whether multiple risk factors need to be considered when designing effective interventions for eating disorder symptoms. The goal of this study is to examine interactions between EE, NA, and RNT in relation to binge eating in two samples of adolescents and young adults. Methods: The current study included two community samples: 1) female adolescents aged 14-15 (n = 43), and 2) female undergraduate students aged 18-26 (n = 729). A battery of measures was administered online to participants. Measures used include the Repetitive Thought Questionnaire (McElvoy, Mahoney, & Moulds, 2010) as a measure of RNT, the eating manages negative affect subscale from the Eating Expectancies Inventory (Hohlstein, Smith, & Atlas, 1998) as a measure of eating expectancies, the negative affect subscale from the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) as a measure of negative affect, and the binge eating subscale from the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory (Forbush et al., 2013) as a measure of binge eating. Results: In the undergraduate sample, a significant interaction (b* = .03, p = .005 partial r = .117) was found between EE and NA in relation to binge eating, such that higher levels of EE and higher levels of NA were associated with higher levels of binge eating. In addition, there was a significant interaction (b* = .096, p = .002 partial r = .104) between RNT and EE in relation to binge eating, such that higher levels of EE and higher levels of RNT were associated with higher levels of binge eating. There was no significant interaction between NA and RNT, nor was there a three-way interaction between EE, NA, and RNT in the undergraduate sample (ps > .05). In the adolescent age group, there was a significant interaction (b* = .36, p = .003 partial r = .486 between NA and EE, such that higher levels of EE and higher levels of NA were associated with higher levels of binge eating. There were no significant interactions between RNT and EE or NA and RNT, nor was there was a three-way interaction between EE, NA, and RNT in the adolescent sample (ps > 0.05). Discussion: We found that in undergraduates, both higher EE and NA and higher EE and RNT were more likely to be associated with higher binge eating, whereas in adolescents, only higher EE and NA was associated with higher binge eating. Adolescents had slightly different interaction between EE and NA such that higher levels of NA and lower levels of EE were more likely to have lower levels of binge eating. Cognitive bias in emotional processing are heavily associated with RNT, during adolescence these biases may not be as salient as they are in adults, which may explain lack of interaction between RNT and EE in relation to binge eating.
Negative Affect, Eating Expectancies, Repetitive Negative, Binge Eating, Adolescence
Clinical Psychology | Psychology
Hurst, Dylan M.; Brosof, Leigh C. M.S.; and Levinson, Cheri A. Ph.D, "Eating Expectancies Moderate the Relationship Between Negative Affect and Repetitive Negative Thought in Adolescents and Emerging Adulthood in Relation to Binge Eating Symptoms" (2020). Undergraduate Arts and Research Showcase. 18.