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Eat Behav. 2019 Jan;32:95-100. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2019.01.003. Epub 2019 Jan 15.

Unpacking cognitive emotion regulation in eating disorder psychopathology: The differential relationships between rumination, thought suppression, and eating disorder symptoms among men and women.

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Sanford Center for Bio-Behavioral Research, Fargo, ND, United States of America; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Fargo, North Dakota, United States of America. Electronic address:
Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States of America.
Department of Veteran's Affairs, VA Central California Healthcare System, Fresno, California, United States of America.
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States of America.


While previous literature suggests that emotion dysregulation is a salient factor contributing to the onset and maintenance of eating disorders (EDs), less is known about how maladaptive, cognitively oriented regulation strategies such as rumination and thought suppression may be uniquely related to ED symptoms in men and women. The present study sought to examine the independent associations of ruminative brooding and thought suppression with ED symptoms, after controlling for negative affect intensity, and assess whether these associations differ by gender. Participants were 263 undergraduates who completed a series of questionnaires, including measures of ED symptoms (Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale), ruminative brooding (Ruminative Response Scale), and thought suppression (White Bear Suppression Inventory). Generalized linear models examined main effects of ruminative brooding and thought suppression and their interactions with gender on ED symptoms, controlling for negative affect intensity. Higher ruminative brooding was associated with higher binge eating among women. Thought suppression was associated with higher vomiting and fasting frequency in both genders, with a stronger association between suppression and fasting in men compared to women. Together results demonstrate the unique contributions of cognitive perseveration and avoidance in ED symptomatology; specifically, ruminative brooding may be a salient factor contributing to binge eating in women, while high levels of thought suppression among males may contribute to fasting. Findings highlight the potential importance of examining and differentially targeting specific facets of cognitive emotion regulation in men and women engaging in ED behaviors.


Avoidance; Emotion regulation; Gender differences; Rumination; Thought suppression

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