Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Donald A. Williamson


The purpose of this study was to test a cross-sectional psychosocial etiological model of binge eating in obesity using path analysis. Depression, dietary restraint, self-esteem, weight cycling, history of teasing, body dissatisfaction, concern for physical appearance, negative perception of physical appearance, media exposure, and social pressure to maintain a thin ideal were 'state' social learning constructs that were tested as correlates of binge eating. Personality variables such as neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were stable 'trait' variables that were tested as correlates. The study sample was 808 adults, including 444 women with a mean age of 33.35 (SD = 13.60) and a mean body mass index of 27.28 (SD = 6.49) and 364 men with a mean age of 26.4 (SD = 11.16) and a mean body mass index of 29.05 ( SD = 5.9). Weight cycling, teasing about weight and shape, body dissatisfaction, negative affect (depression, self-esteem, and neuroticism), and dietary restraint comprised the most parsimonious, best fitting correlates for binge eating in women and men. The fit statistics for the original and cross-validation models for the women and men were acceptable. The variables that comprise these etiological models should be considered in the development of prevention programs for obese binge eaters. Before such programs are developed, however, longitudinal studies need to examine these etiological paths and test for causal relationships among these potential risk factors for binge eating.