Attachment, Emotion Regulation Difficulties, and Disordered Eating Among College Women and Men

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In this study, we examined a structural equation model in which attachment anxiety and avoidance were associated with binge eating and restricted eating behaviors through distinct emotion regulation difficulties of emotional reactivity and emotional cutoff among college women (n = 744) and men (n = 200). As predicted, attachment anxiety was associated with emotional reactivity which, in turn, was associated with binge eating. Attachment avoidance was associated with emotional cutoff which, in turn, was associated with restricted eating, both in college women and men. Two gender differences were found: the association between emotional cutoff and binge eating was statistically significant only for women, and the association between emotional reactivity and binge eating was stronger for men than for women. Clinical implications are suggested, specifically the importance of addressing attachment insecurities and distinct emotion regulation difficulties related to serving college women and men with binge eating and/or restricted eating behaviors.


This article was originally published as Han, S., & Kahn, J. H. (2017). Attachment, emotion regulation difficulties, and disordered eating among college women and men. The Counseling Psychologist, 45(8), 1066–1090.