Behavioral Inhibition System and Behavioral Activation System (BIS/BAS) Motives and Loneliness as Predictors of Eating Disturbances in Female College Students: Interpersonal Context Matters

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The purpose of this study was to examine behavioral inhibition system and behavioral activation system (BIS/BAS) motives and loneliness as predictors of eating disturbances (viz., drive for thinness, bulimic symptoms, & body dissatisfaction) in female college students. Three hundred and one female college students (ages ranging from 18–33 years) completed measures assessing for BIS/BAS motives, loneliness, and eating disturbances. Results of conducting regression analyses indicated that BIS/BAS motives, especially BIS motives, accounted for significant amounts of variance across all three eating disturbance outcomes examined (R2 range = .10 to .13). Moreover, the inclusion of loneliness as a predictor of eating disturbances was found to account for additional unique amounts of variance (ΔR2 range = .02 to .06), over what was accounted for by BIS/BAS motives. These findings indicate that in addition to the potential role of biologically linked variables like BIS/BAS motives, it is important to also consider the contributions of important psychosocial variables like loneliness for understanding eating disturbances among female college students.