Original Article

Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 390-397

First online:

Dysregulated Eating and Distress: Examining the Specific Role of Negative Urgency in a Clinical Sample

  • Michael D. AnestisAffiliated withFlorida State University Email author 
  • , April R. SmithAffiliated withFlorida State University
  • , Erin L. FinkAffiliated withFlorida State University
  • , Thomas E. JoinerAffiliated withFlorida State University

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Many theories exist regarding dysregulated eating behaviors such as bingeing and purging. Recent research has provided consistent and compelling evidence supportive of theories that favor an emotion regulatory model (Smyth et al. J Consult Clin Psychol 75:629–638, 2007). Specifically, these theories posit that individuals engage in dysregulated eating behaviors in a maladaptive attempt to alleviate negative affect. Along these lines, several studies have reported that negative urgency, the tendency to act rashly in an attempt to immediately reduce feelings of negative affect (Whiteside and Lynam Pers Individ Dif 30:669–689, 2001), is a particularly important variable in this process (Anestis et al. Behav Res Ther 45:3018–3029, 2007; Fischer et al. Int J Eat Disord 33:406–411, 2003). In this study, we sought to expand upon prior research by testing the relationship between negative urgency and EDI-Bulimia in a clinical sample (N = 130) when controlling for an extensive list of relevant covariates, including additional components of impulsivity. Results supported our hypotheses. These findings indicate that the previously reported relationship between negative urgency and dysregulated eating behaviors remains significant in a clinical setting, even when controlling a more extensive list of impulsivity related variables than has been utilized in prior research. As such, this study has potentially important clinical implications.


Negative urgency Bulimia nervosa Emotion regulation