Conscious Emotion Regulation in Individuals With Disordered Eating When Viewing High-Fat and Low-Fat Food Images

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Dauber, Aubrey
Washburn University
Department of Psychology
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Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) experience an intense fear of gaining weight, resulting in the restriction of caloric intake (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Research has indicated that AN individuals may have abnormally poor emotion regulation skills which can result in social isolation, ineffective coping strategies, and difficulty with day-to-day functioning (Geller, Cockell, Hewitt, Goldner, & Gordon, 2000; Lynch, Gray, Hempel, Titley, & O’Mahen, 2013). The current study replicates and expands on Racine et al.’s (2016) emotion-modulated startle paradigm (EMSP) research, which is a method that allows conscious, voluntary emotion regulation to be studied. Their study assessed how well individuals with AN could either “enhance,” “maintain,” or “suppress” their emotions when viewing positive, negative, neutral, and food images. In contrast to Racine et al. (2016), our study differentiated between high-fat and low-fat food image trials and included a healthy control (HC) group. Findings from this study revealed no significant differences between disordered eating (DE) and HC groups. Despite no significant group differences, results did indicate significant differences in how participants were able to regulate their emotions when viewing certain picture types.