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Daily Ups and Downs in Women's Binge Eating Symptoms: The Role of Basic Psychological Needs, General Self-Control, and Emotional Eating

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2013.32.3.335

The high prevalence rates of problematic eating behaviors, such as binge eating symptoms, have urged researchers to investigate why and when control over eating behaviors is lost. The current study employs a daily diary methodology to examine whether the daily satisfaction and frustration of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, as conceptualized within Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000), is associated with daily binge eating symptoms. In a sample of female adolescents (N = 302, age = 14–23), daily fluctuations in need frustration were related to daily fluctuations in binge eating symptoms. Furthermore, frustration of all three needs yielded an independent association with binge eating symptoms. Apart from the main effects of low self-control strength and emotional eating, emotional eating served as a moderator of the link between need frustration and binge eating symptoms. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.