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When thought suppression backfires: its moderator effect on eating psychopathology


  • Compassion

Document Type

Published Date

  • 2015


  • Recently, several studies have pointed the importance of thought suppression as a form of experiential avoidance in different psychopathological conditions. Thought suppression may be conceptualized as an attempt to decrease or eliminate unwanted internal experiences. However, it encloses a paradoxical nature, making those thoughts hyper accessible and placing an extra burden on individuals. This avoidance process has been associated with several psychopathological conditions. However, its role in eating psychopathology remains unclear. The present study aims to explore the moderation effect of thought suppression on the associations between body image-related unwanted internal experiences (unfavorable social comparison through physical appearance and body image dissatisfaction) and eating psychopathology severity in a sample of 211 female students. Correlational analyses showed that thought suppression is associated with psychological inflexibility and eating disorders' main risk factors and symptoms. Moreover, two independent analyses revealed that thought suppression moderates, as it amplifies, the impact of unfavorable social comparisons through physical appearance (model 1) and body image dissatisfaction (model 2) on disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Hence, for the same level of these body-related internal experiences, young females who reveal higher levels of thought suppression present higher eating psychopathology. Taken together, these findings highlight the key role of thought suppression in eating psychopathology and present important clinical implications
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