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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Binge eating and drinking in young women : personality correlates and psychophysiological indices of emotion processing Dominelli, Rachelle


The disinhibited behaviours of binge eating and binge drinking are associated with significant negative consequences. Impulsivity and emotion dysregulation are commonly posited to underlie engagement in these behaviours. To advance our understanding of these behaviours in young women, the studies identified unique impulsive personality contributions and advanced emotion regulation theories of these behaviours through psychophysiological assessment. Study one examined unique relationships between binge behaviours, traits derived from Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory and those derived from the Urgency Premeditation Perseverance Sensation Seeking-Positive Urgency (UPPS-P) Impulsive Behavior Scale. Reward Sensitivity was associated with both behaviours while Punishment Sensitivity had differential relationships with the binge types. Negative Urgency was the greatest predictor of binge eating, Sensation Seeking had the strongest relationship with binge drinking, and Lack of Perseverance was a common predictor for both types of bingeing. These findings support trait emotion regulation conceptualizations. In study two, emotion reactivity and emotion regulation ability were examined within the context of a picture viewing startle blink paradigm. While a broad deficit in the ability to regulate emotional states across psychophysiological response systems was not supported, subtle differences in response duration, regulation of valence versus arousal and response coherence warrant further investigation. Study three examined emotion response coherence between the psychophysiological measures, (i.e. startle blink, corrugator activity, late positive potential), and subjective ratings of the emotion stimuli. Though stability of relationships was limited by small samples, results were suggestive of similar patterns of coherence amongst non-bingeing and binge drinking women with a possible alteration of coherence in binge eating women. Overall, the findings suggest that maladaptive affective responses that are evident on trait-based assessments may not translate into deficits in the ability to regulate brief emotional states. Emotion dysregulation may be limited to interpersonally-relevant emotional states or specific emotion-evoking stimuli. Application of these psychophysiological methods in paradigms using these more binge-specific stimuli may prove more sensitive to potential deficits in emotion regulation ability. These studies highlight the importance of a multi-component assessment of emotional processing in those with disinhibited bingeing behaviours.

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