College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
BS (Bachelor of Science)
Session and Year of Graduation
Honors Major Advisor
The factors that influence the established association between social anxiety and binge eating have received limited research attention. Because previous research demonstrates an association between weight stigma and disordered eating behaviors like binge eating, one factor that potentially explains this association is weight-based rejection sensitivity, the tendency to anxiously anticipate social rejection on the basis of one’s weight. While previous research has established that anticipating rejection due to one’s appearance mediates the association between social anxiety and binge eating, it remains to be seen whether this association can be accounted for by sensitivity to rejection more broadly. In order to examine this question, 409 undergraduate students from the University of Iowa completed an online questionnaire containing measures of social anxiety, binge eating, weight-based rejection sensitivity, and general rejection sensitivity. Results demonstrated that weight-based rejection sensitivity was a significant mediator of the association between social anxiety and binge eating even when general rejection sensitivity was included as a covariate. Gender significantly moderated the direct effect of social anxiety on binge eating and the indirect effect of social anxiety on binge eating through weight-based rejection sensitivity such that the direct and indirect effects were only significant for female participants. These findings suggest that weight-based rejection sensitivity may partially explain why women with heightened social anxiety report increased binge eating while other factors may contribute to the association between social anxiety and binge eating for men.
Social Anxiety, Binge Eating, Weight Stigma, Rejection Sensitivity
Copyright © 2019 Hannah Erlbacher