Testing the perfectionism model of binge eating in mother–daughter dyads: A mixed longitudinal and daily diary study

The perfectionism model of binge eating is an integrative model explaining why perfectionism is tied to binge eating. This study extended and tested this emerging model by proposing daughters’ socially prescribed perfectionism (i.e., perceiving one’s mother is harshly demanding perfection of oneself) and mothers’ psychological control (i.e., a negative parenting style involving control and demandingness) contribute indirectly to daughters’ binge eating by generating situations or experiences that trigger binge eating. These binge triggers include discrepancies (i.e., viewing oneself as falling short of one’s mother’s expectations), depressive affect (i.e., feeling miserable and sad), and dietary restraint (i.e., behaviors aimed at reduced caloric intake). This model was tested in 218 motherdaughter dyads studied using a mixed longitudinal and daily diary design. Daughters were undergraduate students. Results largely supported hypotheses, with bootstrapped tests of mediation suggesting daughters’ socially prescribed perfectionism and mothers’ psychological control contribute to binge eating through binge triggers. For undergraduate women who believe their mothers rigidly require them to be perfect and whose mothers are demanding and controlling, binge eating may provide a means of coping with or escaping from an unhealthy, unsatisfying motherdaughter relationship.