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Gender differences in the role of alexithymia and emotional expressivity in disordered eating

Authors
Journal
Personality and Individual Differences
0191-8869
Publisher
Elsevier
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.07.029
Keywords
  • Gender Differences
  • Alexithymia
  • Emotional Expressivity
  • Bulimia Nervosa
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract Disordered eating habits such as binge-eating, purging, and extreme diet restriction have been linked to a variety of deficits in emotion regulation. Two such aspects of emotion regulation are alexithymia and emotional expressivity, although much of the research is limited to females. This study examines associations between these aspects of emotion regulation and symptoms of bulimia nervosa (BN) in men and women. Participants were 201 female and male undergraduates who completed self-report measures of emotion regulation and BN symptoms. Consistent with prior research, results indicate that alexithymia predicted BN symptoms in females, but not in the presence of emotional expressivity, which proved to be the only unique predictor of BN symptoms. In the male sample, alexithymia predicted BN symptoms over and above emotional expressivity. These findings suggest that BN symptoms in males may partly be explained by one facet of emotion regulation, but they also highlight important gender differences in disordered eating. Future research should further examine the role of emotion regulation in eating pathology in males.

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