The Effects of Daily Emotional Experiences and Emotion Avoidance on Within-person Eating Disorder Symptoms



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Affect regulation models propose that eating disorder behaviors are attempts to escape or manage aversive emotional states. Studies indicate that individuals with eating disorders experience negative affect before engaging in disordered eating; however, few studies have examined how state emotion avoidance impacts disordered eating. Additionally, studies indicate that avoidance of positive affect is significantly related to increased eating disorder symptoms.

Individuals who were at-risk for an eating disorder completed baseline and daily assessments for two weeks. Results were analyzed using Hierarchical Linear Modeling and Generalized Estimating Equations to assess the relations between daily within-person experience and avoidance of positive and negative affect and two outcomes, restrictive eating and disordered eating behaviors. Contrary to what was hypothesized, the within-person experience of negative affect, experience of positive affect, and avoidance of negative affect were not significantly related to restrictive eating and disordered eating behaviors. As hypothesized, increased within-person avoidance of positive affect was associated with increased restrictive eating. Between-person analyses revealed significant positive relations between experience of negative affect and restrictive eating and avoidance of negative affect and disordered eating behaviors. Between-person avoidance of positive affect moderated the relation between experience of positive affect and disordered eating behaviors such that when avoidance was low the effect of positive affect was not significant; however, when avoidance was high, the effect of positive affect approached significance.



Eating disorders, Emotion avoidance, Negative affect, Positive affect