Attachment and motivational systems: Relevance of sensitivity to punishment for eating disorder psychopathology.

About this resource

An altered balance of reward and inhibition systems may explain Eating Disorder (ED) behaviors and could be related to difficulties in socio-emotional processing. According to attachment theory, early interaction with caregivers affects the ability to regulate emotion in adult interpersonal situation. The aim of our study was to investigate if insecure attachment may be related to ED symptomatology through changes in reward and inhibition systems. Seventy-eight people affected by EDs and 45 healthy controls (HC) filled in the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ), the Behavioral Inhibition System-Behavioral Activation System Scale (BIS-BAS) and the Eating Disorders Inventory-2 (EDI-2) questionnaire. ED people reported significantly higher scores than HC in EDI-2 scores, all dimensions of insecure attachment style and sensitivity to punishment (BIS score). In ED patients, ASQ anxiety scores correlated with almost all EDI-2 subscores and sensitivity to punishment. The association between anxious attachment style and ED symptomatology (drive to thinness and body dissatisfaction) was totally mediated by an indirect effect of sensitivity to punishment. These findings suggest, for the first time, increased sensitivity to punishment as a pathway that may explain the relationship between anxious attachment and ED symptomatology highlighting the relevance to target social experiences as an important psychotherapeutic focus.

AuthorMonteleone, Alessio Maria; Cardi, Valentina; Volpe, Umberto; Fico, Giovanna; Ruzzi, Valeria; Pellegrino, Francesca; Castellini, Giovanni; Monteleone, Palmiero; Maj, Mario
JournalPsychiatry research
Year2018

See also

An angel on my shoulder: A study of relationships between women with anorexia and healthcare professionals

Adults with anorexia are an under-researched group because the usual focus is on adolescents.

Read more

Examining a momentary mediation model of appearance-related stress, anxiety, and eating disorder behaviors in adult anorexia nervosa.

PURPOSE: Appearance-related stress may result from appearance-focused events such as seeing one's reflection, seeing media images, and shopping for clothes.

Read more

Multidisciplinary care considerations for gender nonconforming adolescents with eating disorders: A case series

Gender nonconforming youth are at risk for body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

Read more

All better? How former anorexia nervosa patients define recovery and engaged in treatment

The purpose of this study was to explore how individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) engage in treatment and define recovery.

Read more

Help us improve!

Give us feedback!

We will continue throughout 2019 to update and improve the NEDC website and welcome any feedback you may have on the site.

Provide feedback