The role of negative reinforcement eating expectancies in the relation between experiential avoidance and disinhibition

Katherine Schaumberg, Leah M. Schumacher, Diane L. Rosenbaum, Colleen A. Kase, Amani D. Piers, Michael R. Lowe, Evan M. Forman, Meghan L. Butryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Eating-related disinhibition (i.e., a tendency to overeat in response to various stimuli) is associated with weight gain and poorer long-term weight loss success. Theoretically, experiential avoidance (i.e., the desire or attempts to avoid uncomfortable internal experiences), may predispose individuals to developing negative reinforcement eating expectancies (i.e., the belief that eating will help to mitigate distress), which in turn promote disinhibition. Such relationships are consistent with an acquired preparedness model, which posits that dispositions influence learning and subsequent behavior. Drawing from this framework, the current study represents the first investigation of relations between negative reinforcement eating expectancies, experiential avoidance (both general and food-specific) and disinhibited eating. In particular, the mediating role of negative reinforcement eating expectancies in the relation between experiential avoidance and disinhibited eating was examined. Method: Participants (N = 107) were overweight and obese individuals presenting for behavioral weight loss treatment who completed measures of general and food-related experiential avoidance, negative reinforcement eating expectancies, and disinhibition. Results: Experiential avoidance and negative reinforcement eating expectancies significantly related to disinhibition. Furthermore, the relation between experiential avoidance and disinhibition was mediated by negative reinforcement eating expectancies. Discussion: The current study supports an acquired preparedness model for disinhibition, such that the relation between experiential avoidance and disinhibition is accounted for by expectations that eating will alleviate distress. Findings highlight the potential role of eating expectancies in models accounting for obesity risk, and identify negative reinforcement eating expectancies as a potential treatment target for reducing disinhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-134
Number of pages6
JournalEating Behaviors
Volume21
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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