Disordered eating symptoms are associated with disrupted sensitivity to reward and punishment, broadly assessed. However, it is unknown how eating pathology is related to sensitivity to social reward and social punishment specifically. Drawing on Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory, the current study utilized a multi-method design to test whether disordered eating symptoms, specifically dietary restraint (DR) and binge/purge (BP), were similarly or uniquely related to sensitivity to social punishment and social reward. Female university students (N = 110, M = 18.66, SD = 0.89) completed self-report measures and a novel behavioral task measuring willingness to work for or to avoid social feedback. DR and BP symptoms were related to increased self-reported and behavioral sensitivity to social punishment, yet only when symptoms were tested in isolation. DR was associated with increased sensitivity to social reward across self-report and behavioral paradigms. BP symptoms were uniquely and positively related to self-reported sensitivity to social reward, but decreased behavioral sensitivity to social reward. Findings suggest that sensitivity to punishment may be a common factor related to DR and BP, whereas sensitivity to social reward may be a key factor differentiating disordered eating symptoms.
Appetite – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2018
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