Affect, reward, and punishment in anorexia nervosa: a narrative overview

Margarita Sala*, Amy H. Egbert, Jason M. Lavender, Andrea B. Goldschmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious psychiatric disorder that is difficult to treat and often follows a protracted course. A number of theoretical models have been proposed for the etiology and maintenance of AN. Two domains that have received substantial attention in the literature on AN are affect and reward/punishment processes. However, despite an overlap in the nature and implications of these processes, studies of AN addressing these constructs have typically investigated them independently. Purpose: The purpose of this narrative review is to integrate the literature on the role of affect, reward, and punishment in AN. Method: We provide a focused narrative overview of the literature relating to the affect, reward, and punishment in AN via a synthesis of recent reviews and meta-analyses. Results: We first describe several prominent affect and reward/punishment-based conceptualizations of AN, followed by a brief overview of the existing empirical literature in these domains. Conclusion: We provide a critical discussion of the disparate nature of these literatures in AN, including associated limitations. We then conclude with an extensive discussion of directions for future research that integrate the study of affect and reward/punishment processes in AN. Level of evidence: Level V, narrative review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-737
Number of pages7
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Emotion
  • Punishment
  • Reward


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