UNDERSTANDING INFLUENCES UNDERLYING EATING BEHAVIORS
THE BE FED LAB
Our lab seeks to better understand the complex and dynamic factors that influence eating behaviors.
NOTE: Dr. O'Connor is looking forward to recruiting a student this cycle (Fall 2022 admission) for the Clinical Psych Ph.D. program at Montclair State University. See the "Get Involved" tab for more information.
Historically, research that sought to understand the development of disordered eating and clinical eating disorders focused on the role of the environment. For example, these studies focused on how maternal behaviors (e.g., enmeshment with the child) and/or the larger sociocultural environment (e.g., cultural pressures for thinness) impacts the development of eating disorders.
While essentially all individuals within Western cultures are exposed to cultural pressures to be thin to some degree, only approximately 1-3% of individuals development clinical eating disorders. Since the 1980s, twin and family studies have highlighted the important contribution of genetic influence to our understanding of who develops problematic eating.
GENETIC X ENVIRONMENT INTERPLAY
Taken together, it is likely a complex interaction between environmental influences and genetic influences that contribute to the development of problematic eating. By modeling both the contribution of environmental factors and genetic risk, we can development a better understanding of who is most suspectible to problematic eating and the most effective targets for prevention and intervention.