Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, ix, 124 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Drew A Anderson

Committee Members

James F Boswell, Julia M Hormes


affect regulation, binge eating, disordered eating, eating disorders, Loss of control eating, negative mood, Eating disorders in women, Compulsive eating, Alexithymia, Food, Food habits

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychology


Affect regulation theories posit that loss of control (LOC) and binge eating are maintained via an emotion regulation process, through which eating relieves negative affect and aversive mood states. LOC has been identified as a key binge eating characteristic associated with psychopathology and poor psychological outcomes. As such, maladaptive emotion regulation has been identified as a central risk factor for binge eating, as theories posit that individuals binge eat in response to negative mood states. However, empirical studies testing the link between induced negative mood and subsequent food intake in people with LOC and binge eating have yielded inconsistent findings. Currently, additional work is needed to better clarify relations between negative affect, emotion regulation, and LOC eating. For example, few studies testing the relation between negative affect and eating among individuals with LOC or binge eating have examined individual difference factors that may increase risk for LOC eating concerns. To address this need, the current study utilized a multimethod experimental design to examine food intake and negative mood in women with and without LOC eating. To extend prior research, the current work also evaluated associations between LOC eating and alexithymia and interoceptive awareness – constructs associated with poor emotion regulation. In the current study, women with LOC eating (n = 64) and healthy comparison women without LOC eating (n = 64) completed a bogus taste test meal following a negative or neutral mood induction. Contrary to what would be expected by the affect regulation theory, food intake did not differ between participant groups or mood induction conditions. Across the full sample, negative mood significantly decreased from pre-meal to post-meal time points, indicating significant mood repair in all participants. As expected, women with LOC reported greater negative mood states than healthy comparison participants, regardless of mood induction. However, mood induction did not interact with LOC eating status, conflicting with the affect regulation model. Finally, alexithymia and interoceptive awareness did not influence food intake or negative mood trajectories, suggesting more work is needed to evaluate individual differences with theoretical links to emotional experience and affect regulation. Overall, current findings offer little support for the affect regulation model in young women endorsing LOC eating, and indicate additional research is needed to better understand key factors and processes that may maintain LOC and binge eating.