The Role of Affect in the Maintenance of Binge-Eating Disorder: Evidence From an Ecological Momentary Assessment Study

Lauren M. Schaefer, Kathryn E. Smith, Lisa M. Anderson, Li Cao, Ross D. Crosby, Scott G. Engel, Scott J Crow, Carol B. Peterson, Stephen A. Wonderlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Affect regulation models of eating disorder behavior, which predict worsening of affect prior to binge-eating episodes and improvement in affect following such episodes, have received support in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. However, limited work has examined the trajectories of affect surrounding binge eating in binge-eating disorder (BED). In the current study, ecological momentary assessment data from 112 men and women with BED were used to examine the trajectories of positive affect (PA), negative affect (NA), guilt, fear, hostility, and sadness relative to binge-eating episodes. Prior to binge episodes, PA significantly decreased, whereas NA and guilt significantly increased. Following binge episodes, levels of NA and guilt significantly decreased and PA stabilized. Overall, results indicate improvements in affect following binge-eating episodes, suggesting that binge eating may function to alleviate unpleasant emotional experiences among individuals with BED, which is consistent with affect regulation models of eating pathology. Because improvements in negative affect were primarily driven by change in guilt, findings also highlight the relative importance of understanding the relationship between guilt and binge-eating behavior within this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association.


  • Affect
  • Affect regulation
  • Binge-eating disorder
  • EMA
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Male
  • Binge-Eating Disorder/psychology
  • Young Adult
  • Fear/psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hostility
  • Guilt
  • Affect/physiology
  • Bulimia/psychology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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