Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 72 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Drew A Anderson

Committee Members

Julia M Hormes


Disgust, Eating Disorders, Emotion, Fear, Eating disorders, Aversion, Body image disturbance, College students

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Exposure interventions for eating disorders typically identify fear as a key treatment target (i.e., fear of fat) and integrate a hierarchical list of the patient's fears into treatment. Recently, research has suggested that the disgust emotion may be equally important for exposure efficacy, as it appears to be more resistant to extinction than fear. Currently, the independent contributions of fear and disgust to eating pathology are unknown, which may limit our ability to develop and implement the most effective exposure interventions. Thus, the current study employed hierarchical multiple regression analyses to evaluate each emotion's relative contribution to eating disorder symptoms among a college-aged sample. More specifically, we evaluated the predictability of disgust and fear responses to eating disorder-relevant stimuli (i.e., food or body images) to predict eating disorder symptoms. Using a visual analogue scale, 400 undergraduate participants rated their emotional reactions to eating disorder-relevant (high calorie foods, low calorie foods, underweight bodies, non-overweight bodies, and overweight body images) and general affect-eliciting images. Participants completed a battery of self-report assessments specific to eating disorder symptomatology and emotional state and trait measures. Results indicated that females' responses to non-overweight bodies and males' disgust to high calorie foods were predictive of eating disorder scores. Limitations and implications for future research and treatment developments are discussed.