Research suggests that individuals with binge eating pathology (e.g., bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorders (BED)) have decision making impairments and particularly act impulsively in response to negative affect. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of negative affect on choice behavior in women with BN and BED. Ninety women (59 with BN or BED and 31 healthy controls) watched a sad or control film fragment and were subsequently asked to complete a choice behavior task (as measured by a variation of the Bechara Gambling Task (BGT)). Results showed that negative affect influenced choice behavior differently in healthy controls and in women with BN and BED after punishment (but not after reward). In the context of increased negative affect, punishment was associated with more disadvantageous choice behavior in both BN and BED women but not in healthy controls, while the effect was the exact opposite in both groups after a decrease in negative affect. Levels of sadness were not found to influence choice behavior after reward in either groups. These findings suggest that emotional states may have a direct impact on choice behavior of individuals with binge eating pathology and are not only related to pathological behavior itself.
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