Evaluating Associations between Perfectionism, Emotion Regulation, and Eating Disorder Symptoms in a Mixed-Gender Sample

Joseph M. Donahue, Erin E. Reilly, Lisa M. Anderson, Christina Scharmer, Drew A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Prior research supports maladaptive perfectionism as a risk factor for eating disorders; however, not all individuals with elevated levels of perfectionism endorse eating pathology, suggesting additional variables may interact with perfectionism to account for this association. The current study examined the influence of difficulties in emotion regulation on the relation between perfectionism and eating disorders. Undergraduate students (N = 309, 50.7% male) from a large university completed measures of perfectionism, emotion dysregulation, and eating pathology. The results indicated that high levels of perfectionism only accounted for significant variance in eating disorder symptoms among individuals with limited access to adaptive strategies to regulate emotions, but not among those with greater access to adaptive strategies. Findings demonstrate that clinicians and researchers should consider the role of emotion regulation among individuals with elevated levels of perfectionism and eating pathology. Future research should prospectively evaluate these associations and examine mechanisms that may further elucidate these relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-904
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr L. Anderson receives funding support from National Institute of Mental Health (T32 MH082761). Dr Reilly receives funding support from the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation. For the remaining authors, none were declared. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Eating disorders
  • emotion regulation
  • perfectionism


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