Emotion-regulation theories suggest that affect intensity is crucial in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. However, other aspects of emotional experience, such as lability, differentiation, and inertia, are not as well understood. This study is the first to use ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine differences in several daily negative affect (NA) indicators among adults diagnosed with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), or binge-eating disorder (BED). We used EMA data from three large studies to run a series of linear mixed models; the results showed that participants in the AN and BN groups experienced significantly greater NA intensity and better emotion differentiation than participants in the BED group. Alternatively, the BN group demonstrated significantly greater NA lability than the AN group and greater NA inertia than the BED group. These results suggest that several daily affective experiences differ among eating-disorder diagnostic groups and have implications toward distinct conceptualizations and treatments.
- affective dynamics
- eating disorders
- ecological momentary assessment
- negative affect