Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Annie Murray-Close

Project Collaborators

Alexandra Sullivan, Nicole Breslend

Graduate Student Mentors

Alexandra Sullivan

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

Presentation Title

Anxious Rejection Sensitivity and Disordered Eating Behaviors: The Moderating Role of Blunted Stress Reactivity

Time

11:00 AM

Location

Silver Maple Ballroom - Social Sciences

Abstract

Anxious rejection sensitivity (RS), defined as the tendency to anxiously expect peer rejection or exclusion, is related to maladjustment (e.g., depression, loneliness) (London et al., 2007). However, research on the association between RS and disordered eating behaviors is in its infancy, despite evidence that other indices of maladaptive interpersonal functioning, such as social anxiety and interpersonal distrust, are related to disordered eating (i.e., bulimic behaviors, dieting concerns; Arcelus et al., 2013). As not all individuals with interpersonal difficulties develop disordered eating patterns, it is important to identify risk factors that might increase risk for these difficulties among youth high in anxious RS. An emerging body of research suggests that blunted physiological stress reactivity (e.g., low cortisol, low heart rate) is implicated in disordered eating behaviors (Ginty et al., 2011; Het et al., 2014). The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether anxious RS was associated with multiple facets of problem eating behaviors in a non-clinical sample of pre-adolescents, and whether this effect was stronger among youth with physiological risk (i.e., blunted skin conductance reactivity, SCL-R; reflecting sympathetic nervous system activity).

99 children reported on their anxious rejection sensitivity (Ayduk et al., 2000) and their disordered eating behaviors (i.e., bulimia, oral control; Maloney et al., 1989). SCL-R was measured in response to a standardized assessment of peer stress (Cyberball; Williams et al., 2012). Anxious rejection sensitivity was positively associated with both bulimia problems and dieting concerns. Furthermore, the association between anxious RS and bulimia problems was moderated by SCL-R; simple slope analyses indicated that the positive relationship between anxious RS and problem eating behaviors was stronger at low, as compared to high, SCL-R.

Overall, findings suggest that anxious rejection sensitivity is related to increased risk for disordered eating. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed.

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Anxious Rejection Sensitivity and Disordered Eating Behaviors: The Moderating Role of Blunted Stress Reactivity

Anxious rejection sensitivity (RS), defined as the tendency to anxiously expect peer rejection or exclusion, is related to maladjustment (e.g., depression, loneliness) (London et al., 2007). However, research on the association between RS and disordered eating behaviors is in its infancy, despite evidence that other indices of maladaptive interpersonal functioning, such as social anxiety and interpersonal distrust, are related to disordered eating (i.e., bulimic behaviors, dieting concerns; Arcelus et al., 2013). As not all individuals with interpersonal difficulties develop disordered eating patterns, it is important to identify risk factors that might increase risk for these difficulties among youth high in anxious RS. An emerging body of research suggests that blunted physiological stress reactivity (e.g., low cortisol, low heart rate) is implicated in disordered eating behaviors (Ginty et al., 2011; Het et al., 2014). The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether anxious RS was associated with multiple facets of problem eating behaviors in a non-clinical sample of pre-adolescents, and whether this effect was stronger among youth with physiological risk (i.e., blunted skin conductance reactivity, SCL-R; reflecting sympathetic nervous system activity).

99 children reported on their anxious rejection sensitivity (Ayduk et al., 2000) and their disordered eating behaviors (i.e., bulimia, oral control; Maloney et al., 1989). SCL-R was measured in response to a standardized assessment of peer stress (Cyberball; Williams et al., 2012). Anxious rejection sensitivity was positively associated with both bulimia problems and dieting concerns. Furthermore, the association between anxious RS and bulimia problems was moderated by SCL-R; simple slope analyses indicated that the positive relationship between anxious RS and problem eating behaviors was stronger at low, as compared to high, SCL-R.

Overall, findings suggest that anxious rejection sensitivity is related to increased risk for disordered eating. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed.