A prominent theory of binge eating is the affect regulation theory, which posits that individuals binge eat to alleviate negative affect, and subsequently reduced negative affect reinforces the behavior. Although it is well-supported that individuals experience elevated negative affect pre-binge, findings do not consistently evince reduced negative affect after binge eating. Therefore, the affect regulation theory does not fully account for binge eating. However, habitual binge eating without reliable improvement in affect may be accounted for by expectancy theory. Expectancies may be predictive of behavior whether the outcomes of a behavior are inconsistent. Additionally, there is an increasing scientific awareness that a sense of loss of control over eating is the most clinically relevant and psychologically distressing component of binge eating and is still associated with adverse outcomes even without objective over-eating. The psychological correlates of low distress tolerance and difficulty regulating one's emotions may contribute to loss-of-control-eating (LOCE), although research to-date primarily focuses on binge eating as a whole. Additionally, expectancy theory has yet to specifically address LOCE. Therefore, it is essential to understand the impact of the expectancy eating will alleviate negative affect (NA reduction expectancy) and psychological factors distress tolerance and emotion regulation difficulties on LOCE. This relationship was assessed with a multiple linear regression model including a three-way interaction between the predictor variables using data from a national online sample of U.S. adults. NA reduction expectancy and emotion regulation difficulties had direct associations with LOCE, but distress tolerance did not. Additionally, when NA reduction expectancy was high, distress tolerance failed to moderate the impact of emotion regulation difficulties on LOCE. However, at low NA reduction expectancy / high distress tolerance, emotion regulation difficulties no longer significantly contributed to LOCE. Limitations, clinical implications, and directions for future research are discussed.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Burr, Emily, "Loss of Control Eating Predicted by the Interaction Between Emotion Regulation Difficulties, Distress Tolerance, and the Expectancy that Eating Reduces Negative Affect" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 656.