Does implicit emotion regulation in binge eating disorder matter?

Eat Behav. 2015 Aug;18:186-91. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.05.011. Epub 2015 Jun 10.


Objective: To examine if implicit emotion regulation (occurring outside of awareness) is related to binge eating disorder (BED) symptomatology and explicit emotion regulation (occurring within awareness), and can be altered via intervention.

Methods: Implicit emotion regulation was assessed via the Emotion Conflict Task (ECT) among a group of adults with BED. Study 1 correlated BED symptomatology and explicit emotion regulation with ECT performance at baseline (BL) and after receiving BED treatment (PT). Study 2 generated effect sizes comparing ECT performance at BL and PT with healthy (non-eating disordered) controls (HC).

Results: Study 1 yielded significant correlations (p<.05) between both BED symptomatology and explicit emotion regulation with ECT performance. Study 2 found that compared to BL ECT performance, PT shifted (d=-.27), closer to HC. Preliminary results suggest a) BED symptomatology and explicit emotion regulation are associated with ECT performance, and b) PT ECT performance normalized after BED treatment.

Conclusions: Implicit emotion regulation may be a BED treatment mechanism because psychotherapy, directly or indirectly, decreased sensitivity to implicit emotional conflict. Further understanding implicit emotion regulation may refine conceptualizations and effective BED treatments.

Keywords: Binge eating disorder; Emotion conflict task; Explicit emotion regulation; Implicit emotion regulation; Implicit processes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / therapy
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome