The momentary interplay of affect, attention bias, and expectancies as predictors of binge eating in the natural environment

Kathryn E. Smith, Tyler B. Mason, Adrienne Juarascio, Noam Weinbach, Robert Dvorak, Ross D. Crosby, Stephen A. Wonderlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Affect regulation, eating expectancies, and attention toward food-related cues are interrelated constructs that have been implicated in the maintenance of binge eating. While these processes show considerable temporal variability, the momentary associations between these domains have not been elucidated. This study examined a model that posited momentary fluctuations in affect, eating expectancies, and attention bias (AB) would interact to predict subsequent binge eating. Method: Forty women who endorsed recurrent binge eating completed a 10-day ecological momentary assessment protocol with ambulatory measures of AB (i.e., dot-probe task with palatable food and neutral cues) and self-report assessments of positive and negative affect, eating expectancies (i.e., the belief that eating would improve one's mood), and binge-eating symptoms. Results: Generalized linear mixed models indicated higher momentary AB toward palatable food was associated with increased risk of subsequent binge eating, and a two-way interaction showed that moments of higher eating expectancies and negative affect were associated with increased likelihood of subsequent binge eating. Also, a three-way interaction emerged, in that the association between eating expectancies and subsequent binge eating was strongest at lower levels of positive affect and higher AB. Discussion: Together, findings partially supported hypotheses and demonstrate meaningful within-person fluctuations in AB that precede binge eating. Further, results demonstrate that the momentary influence of eating expectancies on binge eating depends on both affective state and attentional processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-594
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (T32MH082761).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • affect regulation
  • attention bias
  • binge eating
  • eating expectancies
  • ecological momentary assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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