Suppressing to please, eating to cope: The effect of overweight women's emotion suppression on romantic relationships and eating

Emily A Butler, Valerie J. Young, Ashley K. Randall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


This study assesses whether overweight women suppress emotion to accommodate their male partners, but in doing so put themselves at risk for excessive eating due to negative emotion and decreased dietary restraint. To investigate this possibility, a community sample of committed heterosexual couples completed baseline measures of height and weight, followed by a daily diary for 7 days assessing emotion suppression, positive and negative feelings about one's partner, and eating behavior. As predicted, on days when women with a higher body-mass index (BMI) reported high levels of suppressing emotions their male partners reported reduced negative feelings towards them and the women reported eating more than normal. These effects were reversed (partner feelings) or nonexistent (eating) for women with lower BMI. These results suggest that overweight and obese women may be caught in a double-bind, such that they please their male partners when they suppress emotion, but in doing so increase their risk of overeating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-623
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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