Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2015

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Sandra T. Sigmon

Second Committee Member

Nina E. Boulard

Third Committee Member

Emily A.P. Haigh

Additional Committee Members

Michael A. Robbins

Geoffrey L. Thorpe


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether induced ruminationfollowing a psychosocial stressor leads to changes in affect, self-esteem, and dysregulated eating-experiences. Participants in the current study included women endorsing high (BE Group; n = 40) and low to no (NBE Group; n = 42) binge eating symptoms. Participants completed several online questionnaires and attended a laboratory session. During the laboratory session, participants completed baseline measures (Time 1) of mood, self-esteem, and perceived physiological experiences. Participants then completed a psychosocial stress task, a randomly assigned response style induction task, and a standardized taste task with several food items. All participants completed additional measures of mood and self-esteem immediately following each experimental task (Time 2, Time 3, and Time 4) and completed additional questions regarding their eating experience at Time 4. All food was weighed once the participant departed.

Results indicated that compared to the NBE Group, participants in the BE Group reported greater trait rumination, positive beliefs about the utility of rumination, psychological distress, and detachment coping, but less avoidance and emotional coping. Although there was no differential effect of response style induction (rumination vs. distraction) on anxious mood across either group at Time 3 or Time 4, it did differentially influence depressed mood at Time 3 among participants in the BE Group. Response style induction did not differentially influence change in self-esteem across groups (Time 3); however, all participants assigned to the rumination induction reported lower social self-esteem than participants assigned to the distraction induction. Response style induction did not differentially influence the report of binge eating symptoms at Time 4 or change in physical discomfort from Time 1 to Time 4 within or across groups. Response style induction did not differentially influence categorization of food within the BE group; however, there was a significant difference in food classification when the two groups were compared. The results of this study represent an important step in understanding the function of psychological processes in response to stress on the maintenance of binge eating behaviors and further validate the role of rumination as a transdiagnostic factor.