Negative urgency combined with negative emotionality is linked to eating disorder psychopathology in community women with and without binge eating

Int J Eat Disord. 2021 May;54(5):821-830. doi: 10.1002/eat.23491. Epub 2021 Feb 24.


Objective: Previous research has shown that negative emotionality (NE) and negative urgency (NU) are each risk factors for disordered eating behaviors among undergraduates and treatment-seekers. However, the interaction of these traits in community-based adults with clinical levels of binge eating is unknown and has implications for risk and maintenance models of disordered eating.

Method: We examined a moderated-mediation model of cross-sectional associations among levels of NE (independent variable), NU (mediator), and eating disorder psychopathology (i.e., eating, shape, and weight concerns, and restraint; dependent variable) in 68 community-recruited women with current regular binge eating and 75 control women with no eating disorder history (group = moderator). Participants completed semi-structured diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires measuring NE, NU, eating disorder psychopathology, and anxiety and depression symptoms.

Results: After adjusting for anxiety and depression symptoms and body mass index, women with binge eating experienced greater NU and eating disorder psychopathology than control women with no eating disorder history. Despite similar levels of NE across groups, both groups exhibited an indirect effect of NE on eating disorder psychopathology via NU.

Discussion: Our findings suggest that greater NE, coupled with a propensity to engage in rash action when experiencing negative emotions, are associated with eating disorder psychopathology in women with and without eating disorders characterized by binge eating. These findings may help explain why some individuals engage in disordered eating behaviors when experiencing negative affect.

Keywords: binge-eating disorder; body mass index; bulimia; bulimia nervosa; cross-sectional studies; feeding and eating disorders; female; psychopathology; risk factors; self-report.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Binge-Eating Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Bulimia*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires