Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kyle De Young


Avoiding unpleasant internal experiences may be associated with eating disorder symptomatology, and college students may be especially at risk. However, the process through which the avoidance of uncomfortable experiences relates to eating psychopathology is unknown. By evaluating experiential avoidance and learned expectancies of eating outcomes, the present study investigated the potential mechanism through which maladaptive avoidant strategies relate to eating psychopathology. Participants included 244 undergraduate students enrolled in psychology courses from a Midwestern university. The participants completed a battery of questionnaires through an online research system managed by the university. Preacher and Hayes’s (2008) bootstrapping method of mediation and structural equation modeling were used to analyze the relationships among experiential avoidance, eating expectancies, and binge eating and how experiential avoidance fits within the Acquired Preparedness model of eating disorder risk. Results revealed that experiential avoidance was significantly related to negative affect eating expectancies and to binge eating. Negative affect eating expectancies mediated the relationship between experiential avoidance and binge eating. Further, the experiential avoidance model more adequately predicted binge eating than the Acquired Preparedness model of eating disorder risk. The findings from this study suggest an alternative understanding of the pathways through which dispositional and

psychosocial characteristics of undergraduate students impact eating disorder symptomatology.