Problem: The dual pathways model of binge eating (Stice, Nemeroff, & Shaw, 1996) suggests that restricted eating could lead to disinhibited binge eating as a rebound. This premise has received mixed empirical support (e.g., de Luz et al., 2015). Similarly, the energy depletion model (Baumeister, 2002) proposes that self-regulatory efforts (e.g., restricted eating) would deplete psychological energy, resulting in the failure of subsequent self-regulation (e.g., binge eating). To the authors’ knowledge, this mediating role of depleted energy in the link between restricted eating and binge eating has not been examined directly. It is partly because the nature of psychological energy has not been clearly defined or directly measured. This study operationally defined psychological energy as felt energy for regulating oneself (O’Connor, 2004; Thayer, 1988) and created a self-report measure. Then, we tested a path model wherein restricted eating was associated with binge eating indirectly through low felt energy.
Procedure: A total of 210 college students enrolled in a large Midwestern university (35 cismen, 172 ciswomen, 3 others, mean age=19.90) participated in an online survey. It included a felt energy measure developed for this study, the Short-Form Health Survey Vitality subscale (Ware & Sherbourne, 1992), the Binge Eating Scale (Gormally et al., 1982), and the Dutch Eating Behavior Scale (van Strien et al., 1986). A path analysis was conducted using SPSS PROCESS v3.5 (Hayes, 2018).
Results: The felt energy measure scores were positively correlated with the Vitality subscale scores, supporting the concurrent validity of the measure. The path analysis revealed that restricted eating was negatively associated with felt energy (β=-.27, p=.04), which in turn was associated negatively with binge eating (β =-.22, p=.07). Restricted eating was also directly associated with binge eating (β =.38, p=.002). The bootstrapping analysis revealed that the indirect effect was not significant, however, β=.06, CI=-.01, .15.
Conclusions and Implications: The proposed indirect paths were significant as predicted, although the indirect effect was not significant possibly due to the small sample size. With a larger sample from the incoming data, a complete result would be presented at the conference. This study potentially clarifies a conceptual issue regarding the nature of psychological energy as an intervening mechanism for self-regulation failure such as binge eating. This study also potentially clarifies the meaning of current mixed findings on the link between restricted eating and binge eating by directly testing the intervening role of felt energy.
Based on the dual pathways model of binge eating and resource depletion model, this study examined whether low felt energy mediated the association between restricted eating and binge eating. A path analysis revealed significant path coefficients in the expected direction, but the indirect effect of felt energy was not significant.
Shilney, Nicholas, "Felt Energy May Mediate The Restricted And Binge Eating Link" (2021). Psychology. 22.