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Attachment insecurity and emotional eating

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Attachment insecurity and emotional eating

KE Alexander - 2013 - rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu - thesis

The concept of emotional eating is well known within the general public and has been given scientific consideration as well. However, there has been little work focusing on emotional eating from the perspective of attachment theory. Attachment theory posits that the social and emotional bonds an individual forms with his/her caregiver as an infant lead to the development of an attachment style, which influences how an individual perceives them self, others and social interactions. Distinct emotion regulation strategies also underlie attachment styles. Given the social and emotional nature of eating, it is probable that eating behavior can be influenced by attachment style. The following dissertation explored the relationships between attachment anxiety and avoidance and emotional eating. Study 1 established a connection between self reported attachment anxiety and emotional eating, but not attachment avoidance. This association was mediated by perceived hunger. Study 2 revealed that individuals who reported higher levels of attachment anxiety tended to eat more unhealthy food (potato chips) but not healthy food. Study 3 explored the processes underlying the relationship between attachment anxiety and eating after ostracism. Study 4 involved an intervention to suppress emotional eating.