What is the Impact of Shame in Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours & Binge Eating?

Research Paper Title

“Shame on you”: The impact of shame in body-focused repetitive behaviours and binge eating.


Body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs), such as hair-pulling, skin-picking, and nail-biting, have been associated with difficulties in emotion regulation.

Studies have suggested that aversive emotions are important triggers for impulsive behaviours such as BFRBs and binge eating.

In particular, shame has been hypothesized to be a key emotion before and after these behaviours, but no experimental studies yet have investigated its impact on BFRBs.

The researchers aimed to evaluate the role of shame in BFRB and binge eating episodes and the presence of shame following these behaviours.


Eighteen women with BFRBs, 18 with binge eating, and 18 community controls participated in the study.


Results showed that an experimental shame condition triggered more shame in the binge eating and BFRB groups than in the control group.

In addition, the shame induced condition increased the urge to engage in BFRBs, but not in binge eating.


Results showed that participants from the BFRB and the binge eating groups reported more shame after engaging in their pathological behaviours compared to following the neutral condition.

Future studies should replicate these findings with larger samples and different shame-inducing conditions.


Houazene, S., Leclerc, J.B., O’Connor, K. & Aardema, F. (2021) “Shame on you”: The impact of shame in body-focused repetitive behaviors and binge eating. Behaviour Research and Therapy. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2021.103804. Online ahead of print.

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