Influence of negative affect on decision making in women with restrictive and binge-purge type anorexia nervosa

Psychiatry Res. 2016 May 30;239:39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.02.054. Epub 2016 Feb 23.


The present study aims to examine the influence of negative affect on decision making in women with anorexia nervosa (AN) compared to healthy control women and, secondly, to assess differences between the restrictive (ANR) and binge-purge (ANBP) subtypes. One hundred four women (32 with ANR, 32 with ANBP, and 40 healthy controls) participated. All women were asked to watch either a negative or a control film fragment, both followed by the Bechara Gambling Task (BGT). Before and after the fragments negative affect was measured. Additionally, relevant characteristics (e.g., overall depressive symptoms) were assessed. Differences in negative affect did not influence decision making performance. Independent of affective state, decision making was found to be impaired in women with ANBP (no learning effect on the BGT), but not in women with ANR. These findings highlight the importance of considering different AN subtypes when examining decision making processes. However, the role of negative affect on decision making remains uncertain. Since other affect related factors such as affect dysregulation may also play a role, future studies on decision making in AN should take the role of affect into account.

Keywords: Affect; Affect-driven impulsiveness; Anorexia nervosa subtypes; Eating disorders; Gambling task; Impulsivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect* / physiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / diagnosis
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology*
  • Decision Making* / physiology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Gambling / diagnosis
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Young Adult