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Examining how avoidant coping and anger suppression relate to emotional eating in young women

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Examining how avoidant coping and anger suppression relate to emotional eating in young women

Balfour, Louise (1996) Examining how avoidant coping and anger suppression relate to emotional eating in young women. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The present research furthers our understanding of the process through which young women eat in response to negative emotions. The importance of restrained eating (chronic dieting) as a precursor for emotional and binge eating is well documented. As a group, restrained eaters reliably eat more in response to negative emotions compared to nonrestrained eaters. Researchers have recently noted, however, that there are important sources of individual variability in restrained eating. The present investigation sought to clarify these potential sources of variability in restrained eating by examining how two passive coping styles, avoidant coping and anger suppression, relate to how young women eat in response to negative affect. The influence of these two styles of coping on emotional eating was examined in two studies. The first study used an experimental paradigm and the second used a questionnaire format. In Study 1, the effects of film induced affect on eating behaviour were examined in 73 young women classified as high and low on both avoidant coping and dietary restraint. Participants were randomly assigned to watch either a horror film or documentary film in a laboratory setting. Comparisons between anxiety scores before and after watching the films indicated that the horror film increased anxiety and the documentary film decreased anxiety. As predicted, the only group of participants who ate more in the horror compared to the neutral film was the high restraint, high avoidant copers. These results suggest that negative affect may prompt overeating in a subgroup of restrainers who use more passive and indirect modes of coping with stress. Study 2 explored how anger suppression predicts emotional eating behaviour after considering the influence of body weight, dietary restraint, and self-esteem; factors known to have important influences on emotional eating behaviour in women. Questionnaires assessing heights and weights, self-esteem, dietary restraint, and desire to eat in response to emotions were completed by 190 young women. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicate that on the final step of the regression, suppressed anger contributes unique variance to the prediction of emotional eating behaviour. Findings from these two studies highlight how the overreliance on passive coping strategies, such as avoidance and anger suppression, can contribute to the process of emotional eating in young women. This is important given the association between emotional eating and more disturbed eating behaviours, such as binge eating. The current research also sheds light on the variability in restrainers vulnerability to eating in response to negative emotions. Young women who avoid using strategies aimed at directly managing their anxiety and who seek to suppress their feelings of anger are more susceptible to eating when upset than women who do not use such passive styles of coping

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Balfour, Louise
Pagination:x, 148 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Dept. of Psychology
Date:1996
Thesis Supervisor(s):White, Donna R
ID Code:129
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:09
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:12
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