Maladaptive Cognitive Schemas as Predictors of Disordered Eating: Examining the Indirect Pathway through Emotion Regulation Difficulties
Subjectdysfunctional cognitions; early maladaptive schemas; eating attitudes; emotion dysregulation; emotion regulation; inappropriate eating; maladaptive core beliefs; young adults.
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Abstracteating patterns. Moreover, no prior study has considered the potential role of difficulties in negative emotion regulation when disentangling the complex correlations between early maladaptive schemas and disturbed eating habits. Our study aimed at exploring the distinct relationships between early maladaptive schemas and disordered eating, while investigating the indirect role of emotion regulation difficulties within these associations. We collected data from 982 Lebanese young adults (18-30 years old), distributed across the five Lebanese governorates, who completed the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26), the Young Schema Questionnaire-Short Form 3 (YSQ-SF3), and the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale-16 Item Version (DERS-16). The results showed that the disconnection and rejection schema domain, under which the early maladaptive schema of mistrust was the most predictive of disordered/inappropriate eating attitudes. All the remaining maladaptive schema domains (i.e., the impaired autonomy/performance, impaired limits, other-directedness, and overvigilance/inhibition schema domains) exerted significant indirect effects on disordered eating attitudes through difficulties in emotion regulation. Our findings gave prominence to a potential intrinsic mechanism through which maladaptive cognitive schemas are linked to disordered eating behaviors, emphasizing the role of emotion dysregulation as a cardinal actor within this model. They sustain the surmise that cognitively and emotionally vulnerable individuals exhibit stronger propensities for inappropriate dietary patterns, as a means to offset their inner weakness. This study broadens the medical community's insights into the underpinning processes behind eating disorder psychopathology and could therefore make a step towards the adoption of innovative therapeutic approaches that promote emotion regulation skills in the context of schema therapy.
Journal titleInt J Environ Res Public Health