An empirical taxonomy of reward response patterns in a transdiagnostic eating disorder sample

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Reward response patterns may contribute to risk and maintenance of eating disorders (EDs), and there may be clinically meaningful heterogeneity in behavioral responses to different actual and anticipated rewards across ED diagnoses. We used an empirical approach to classify individuals with EDs based on self-reported tendencies for responding to reward-related stimuli. Latent profile analysis was conducted in a transdiagnostic ED sample (N = 104) using Temperament and Character Inventory (Cloninger et al., 1993) subscales to categorize participants on reward responses of behavioral activation towards immediate, hedonic rewards (Novelty Seeking subscale), persistence towards long-term rewards (Persistence subscale), and maintenance by social rewards (Reward Dependence subscale) rewards. Two profiles were identified: (1) Behavioral Activation group (elevated Novelty Seeking; n = 62); and (b) Behavioral Persistence group (elevated Persistence; n = 42). Generalized linear models comparing profiles showed that frequency of these reward response profiles did not differ in probable AN, BN, or OSFED groups; however, individuals with probable BED more often demonstrated the Behavioral Activation profile (p =.041). These profiles exhibited comparable ED severity, but different presentations. Across probable ED diagnoses, the Behavioral Activation group reported greater binge eating (p =.006, d = 0.32) and had higher BMIs (p =.001, d = 0.57); the Behavioral Persistence group endorsed greater driven exercise (p =.042, d = 0.33). Categorization by activation to novel, immediate rewards versus persistence towards long-term rewards was associated with different symptoms across diagnoses, potentially supporting the role of specific reward response profiles in ED phenomenology.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Eating Behaviors