The Relationship between Gender, Decision Making, Primary Risk Factors and Sub-threshold Binge Eating Disorder

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Mary Pritchard


Problem: Decision making and risk factors (e.g., media exposure, peers who focus on appearance, childhood teasing by family members) represent the two main areas that researchers have examined in an effort to understand the cause of Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Research on decision making has identified a strong tendency toward self-gratifying or disadvantageous decision making among binge eaters. Furthermore, persons with Binge Eating Disorder demonstrate sensitivity towards risk factors as a source for self-perception which in turn plays a role in their symptomology. However, research on how the interaction between risk factors and decision making affects individuals with subthreshold BED (SBED) is yet unexplored. The present study asked participants about their binge eating symptomology, decision making patterns, and the influence of media, peers, and family on their behaviors. Additionally, participants were also evaluated on delay discounting in order to understand what or any role delay discounting influences SBED. Data collection is completed, and data analysis is presently underway. Procedure: A mediation analysis will be conducted to determine whether the relation between gender and SBED is mediated by decision making, delay discounting, and/or any other risk factors (e.g., media, family, peers). Results: I anticipate finding that SBED participants demonstrate decision making impairments and sensitivities to risk factors. I also anticipate finding a correlation between delay discounting and participants displaying SBED symptomology. Additionally, I anticipate differences in the way risk factors are perceived between genders. As we are exploring how the interaction between risk factors and decision making relates to SBED, no specific hypotheses were made about that except that we expect there may be gender differences in the interaction effect. Understanding the interaction between decision making and risk factors could lead to possible therapies for and preventive measures against disordered eating.

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