Psychological determinants of emotional eating: The role of attachment, psychopathological symptom distress, love attitudes and perceived hunger

Peta Berenice Stapleton, Eleanor Mackay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The present study aimed to investigate the psychological determinants of emotional eating in a national and
international sample of healthy weight, overweight and obese adults (N = 226). Specifically, attachment
styles, psychopathological symptom distress and love attitudes were explored for their ability to predict
emotional eating. Findings supported the suggestion symptom distress may particularly predispose
individuals to engaging in emotionally motivated overeating, with a large effect size observed. Preoccupied
attachment was also a significant predictor of emotion eating, even after controlling for state-based
inferences. However, there were no significant contributions of secure, fearful-avoidant, or dismissiveavoidant
attachment style in the prediction of emotional eating. Similarly, none of the five primary love
languages (e.g., words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts and physical touch) accounted for a
significant amount of variance in emotional eating. A mediating role of perceived hunger in the prediction
of emotional eating from attachment-anxiety was also observed. Contributions and limitations of the present
study, as well as recommendations for future research are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Research in Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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