The Role of Impulsivity and Compulsivity in Disordered Eating, Self-Harm, and Obligatory Exercise in a Nonclinical Sample

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Research has indicated c strong relationship between eating disorder tendencies and self- harm behaviors. Obligatory exercise also has a strong link to eating disorders, and has been conceptualized as a potential form of self-harming behavior. Research in the areas of eating disorders and self-harm have classified self-harm behaviors into impulsive and compulsive types; however, excessive exercise has not been included among the self- harm behaviors. In addition, researchers have rarely included a concurrent measures of impulsivity and compulsivity, or examined the relationship executive functions have to eating disorders. A sample of 166 female undergraduate students completed the Eating Disorder Inventory-2, Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire, Self-Harm Inventory, Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory (MOC), Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS), Executive Functioning Index (EFI), among other pathology measures. Results indicated that eating disorder tendencies were related to both impulsive and compulsive tendencies. Participants who scored high on both impulsivity and compulsivity scored highest on measures of pathology. Individual who reported both disordered eating (e.g., bingeing) and other self-harm (e.g., skin cutting) scored higher on scales of the BIS and MOC than other groups. Individuals who engaged in four or more impulsive behaviors were more likely to be obligatory exercisers. EDI-2 subscales were consistently related to poor scores on the motivation, impulse control, and planning subscales of the EFI, suggesting poorer executive functioning skills with higher eating disorder tendencies. Results are discussed in terms of multi-impulsive bulimia and deliberate self-harm system, coping strategies and decision making skills, and future directions for eating disorder research.

This document is currently not available here.