A longitudinal transactional risk model for early eating disorder onset

Carolyn M. Pearson, Jessica L. Combs, Tamika C.B. Zapolski, Gregory T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


The presence of binge eating behavior in early middle school predicts future diagnoses and health difficulties. We showed that this early binge eating behavior can be predicted by risk factors assessed in elementary school. We tested the acquired preparedness model of risk, which involves transactions among personality, psychosocial learning, and binge eating. In a sample of 1,906 children assessed in the spring of fifth grade (the last year of elementary school), the fall of sixth grade, and the spring of sixth grade, we found that fifth grade negative urgency (the personality tendency to act rashly when distressed) predicted subsequent increases in the expectancy that eating helps alleviate negative affect, which in turn predicted subsequent increases in binge eating behavior. This transactional risk process appeared to continue to occur at later time points. Negative urgency in the fall of sixth grade was predicted by fifth grade pubertal onset, binge eating behavior, and expectancies. In turn, it predicted increases in high-risk eating expectancies by the spring of sixth grade, and thus heightened risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-718
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Binge eating
  • Expectancies.
  • Personality
  • Puberty
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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