Summer Update: Projects, Papers, & Welcoming a New Grad Student


It’s been a while since I’ve posted any lab updates, so I thought I’d write a little about what we’ve been up to this summer.

We have primarily focused on analyzing and writing up data we’ve collected over the past few years. We’re excited about writing up new findings on the following topics: 1) an examination of whether empathy reduces the likelihood of acting aggressively toward obese people, 2) a look at the the impact of racial discrimination on minority mental health, and 3) emotional and interpersonal influences on eating disorder behaviors. We hope to tell you more about these projects as they develop. In the meantime, here are some brief summaries of recently published papers:

1) Gordon, K.H., Simonich, H., Wonderlich, S.A., Dhankikar, S., Crosby, R.D., Cao, L. Kwan, M.Y., Mitchell, J.E., & Engel, S.G. (2015). Emotion dysregulation and affective intensity mediate the relationship between childhood abuse and suicide-related behaviors among women with bulimia nervosa. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.

It appears that childhood abuse may have led to more intense negative, painful emotions AND difficulty dealing with painful emotions, which, in turn, led to suicide-related behaviors (perhaps as a maladaptive way to cope with emotional pain) among adult women with bulimia nervosa. Findings suggest that suicide-related behaviors may potentially be prevented if clinicians can work with clients to establish healthy ways to reduce the intensity of painful emotions.

2) Lavender, J.M., Wonderlich, S.A., Engel, S.G., Gordon, K.H., Kaye, W.H., & Mitchell, J.E. (2015). Dimensions of emotion dysregulation in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: A conceptual review of the empirical literature. Clinical Psychology Review, 40, 111-122. 

Existing evidence suggests people who suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa have more difficulties identifying, accepting, and adaptively coping with undesired emotions. This is consistent with the notion that people turn to eating disorder behaviors to deal with unpleasant emotions and suggests possible areas for clinical intervention.

And, last but certainly not least, we are excited to welcome a new lab member in the Fall. A new graduate student, Valerie Douglas, will be joining us in August from Louisiana!


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