Self-Critical Perfectionism and Binge Eating Symptoms: A Longitudinal Test of the Intervening Role of Psychological Need Frustration

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Although abundant research has shown that self-critical perfectionism relates to binge eating symptoms, fewer studies have addressed the role of intervening processes that might explain why this is the case. Grounded in self-determination theory, we hypothesized that self-critical perfectionism would relate to an increased risk for binge eating symptoms because it engenders frustration of the psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This hypothesis was tested in a sample of 566 adolescents (72% female; mean age = 13.3 years) using a 3-wave longitudinal study with a 6-month interval. Structural equation modeling analyses showed that self-critical perfectionism related to increases in psychological need frustration which, in turn, predicted increases in binge eating symptoms. Structural relations were found to be equivalent for males and females. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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