Expressive suppression and eating disorder symptomatology in the influence of negative affect on risk taking
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Individuals with eating disorder symptomatology tend to behave impulsively when experiencing negative affect. This tendency might be due to the way they cope with negative affect. The present study aims to examine the influence the experience of negative affect has on risk-taking behaviour in individuals with eating disorder symptomatology. It was expected that this relationship would be moderated by the degree of eating disorder symptomatology and by the use of maladaptive emotion regulation strategy expressive suppression. The participants, 106 women, either watched a negative affect film fragment or a control fragment and completed the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). They also filled out several questionnaires. The results showed no significant influence of negative affect on risk-taking behaviour and eating disorder symptomatology did not seem to be related to this mechanism. Expressive suppression however was associated with the tendency to take risks. These findings suggest that the tendency to take risks might not be specific to eating disorders but to how these individuals experience emotions and cope with them and might thus be characteristic of more general psychopathology. Further research on this topic should be done in which the extent to which individuals are able to tolerate negative emotions could also be taken into account.