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Everyday strivings in war veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: Problems arise when avoidance and emotion regulation dominate

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... Emotion regulation may be an important contributing factor to the dysfunction in several psychopathological disorders, such as personality, [28,29] substance abuse, [30] depressive, [31][32][33][34] and anxiety disorders. [18,31,35,36] In studies examining the role of emotion regulation on negative outcomes, successful emotion regulation was shown to significantly predict increased positive affect and decreased negative affect while statistically controlling for effects of previous emotional adjustment. ...
... These findings are consistent with previous research suggesting that PTSD may be conceptualized to include difficulties with emotion regulation [27,30] and problems with self-regulation. [29,32,34] Such difficulties are hypothesized to manifest in those with PTSD due to an overdependence on strategies designed to avoid potential reminders of the trauma by using internally directed processes (e.g. maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, such as suppression [28] ) and externally directed processes (e.g. ...
... maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, such as suppression [28] ) and externally directed processes (e.g. behavioral avoidance [29] ). ...
Article
Data suggest military personnel involved in U.S. military initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning from deployment with elevated rates of mental health diagnoses, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this study was to examine difficulties with emotion regulation as a potential contributory mechanism by which soldiers have poorer psychological outcomes, such as depression, dissociation, alcohol abuse, and interpersonal difficulties. Participants were 44 active-duty male service members who comprised three groups, including those deployed with and without diagnosed PTSD and those prior to deployment. Participants in the PTSD group scored significantly higher on measures of self-reported depression, trauma-related dissociation, alcohol misuse, and social adjustment difficulties than did comparison groups. Importantly, difficulties with emotion regulation were found to partially mediate the relationship between PTSD and depression, poor social adjustment, and trauma-related depersonalization but not alcohol misuse. Emotion-regulation difficulties are important to consider in the relationship between PTSD and additional psychological outcomes in recently deployed personnel. Implications for treatment are briefly discussed.
... Experiential avoidance behaviors can become pervasive and ineffective regulation strategies and may play a role in the development, maintenance, or exacerbation of psychopathology (Campbell-Sills et al., 2006;Chapman et al., 2006;Hayes et al., 1999;Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010). Further, experiential avoidance has been implicated in numerous clinical disorders and problems, such as substance abuse (Forsyth, Parker, & Finlay, 2003), generalized anxiety disorder (Roemer et al., 2008), panic disorder (White et al., 2006), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Kashdan et al., 2010;Marx & Sloan, 2005), and deliberate self-harm behavior (Chapman et al., 2006). ...
... Experiential avoidance behaviors can become pervasive and ineffective regulation strategies and may play a role in the development, maintenance, or exacerbation of psychopathology (Campbell-Sills et al., 2006;Chapman et al., 2006;Hayes et al., 1999;Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010). Further, experiential avoidance has been implicated in numerous clinical disorders and problems, such as substance abuse (Forsyth, Parker, & Finlay, 2003), generalized anxiety disorder (Roemer et al., 2008), panic disorder (White et al., 2006), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Kashdan et al., 2010;Marx & Sloan, 2005), and deliberate self-harm behavior (Chapman et al., 2006). ...
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There is significant growing interest in the areas of mindfulness, acceptance, experiential avoidance, psychological flexibility, and emotional schemas. While, both emotional schemas and mindfulness have been related to psychopathology, this study is one of the first to empirically address the relationship between these constructs. Specifically, this study examined the relationships between dispositional mindfulness as measured by the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003), psychological flexibility as measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire II (AAQ-II; Bond et al., 2011) and the fourteen dimensions of emotional schemas, as measured by the Leahy Emotional Schema Scale (LESS; Leahy, 2002). There were 107 adult cognitive-behavioral outpatient participants in the study who completed these self-report questionnaires. Individuals with higher levels of dispositional mindfulness also had higher levels of psychological flexibility and were more likely to endorse more adaptive dimensions of emotional schemas. Those individuals who appeared less psychologically flexible or displayed lower levels of dispositional mindfulness were more likely to report less adaptive and more rigid responses to emotional experience.
... Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating psychiatric condition prevalent in populations with high rates of trauma exposure, such as military veterans (Bremner, Southwick, Darnell, & Charney, 1996;Milliken, Aucterlonie, & Hoge, 2007). Current research on PTSD has demonstrated the underlying role of emotional disturbances, including a broad pattern of low emotional awareness and poor emotion regulation (Bonn-Miller, Vujanovic, Boden, & Gross, 2011;Frewen, Dozios, Neufeld, & Lanius, 2008;Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010;Lanius et al., 2010;Tull, Barrett, McMillan, & Roemer, 2007). In the present study, our goal was to examine the interactive effects of one facet of emotional awareness (i.e., emotional clarity) and one type of emotion regulation (i.e., cognitive reappraisal) on PTSD symptom severity and positive affect among military Veterans with PTSD. ...
... Moving beyond symptoms of PTSD, recent work has sought to understand the processes that contribute to well-being and positive adjustment following the experience of trauma (e.g., Kashdan, Breen, et al., 2010;Kashdan, Ferssizidis, et al., 2010;Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). It might reasonably be assumed that a combination of strong emotional clarity and frequent use of cognitive reappraisal would not only predict fewer and less severe PTSD symptoms, but, based on a growing body of evidence finding that psychopathology is relatively independent from positive experience (e.g., Carver, Sutton, & Scheier, 2000;Keyes, 2005), would also predict well-being among individuals with PTSD. ...
Article
The goal of this investigation was to examine how emotional clarity and a specific emotion regulation strategy, cognitive reappraisal, interact to predict Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptom severity and positive affect among treatment seeking military Veterans (N=75, 93% male) diagnosed with PTSD. PTSD is a highly relevant context because PTSD features include heightened stress reactivity, diminished ability to differentiate and understand emotions, and reliance on maladaptive forms of emotion regulation. We found that the combination of high levels of emotional clarity and frequent use of cognitive reappraisal were associated with (a) lesser total PTSD severity after accounting for shared variance with positive affect and the extent to which emotions are attended to (attention to emotions), and (b) greater positive affect after accounting for shared variance with total PTSD severity and attention to emotions. This is the first study to demonstrate interactive effects of emotional clarity and cognitive reappraisal.
... Experiential avoidance is the tendency to inhibit uncomfortable emotions like sadness, grief, and anxiety and to take action to avoid actual or mental scenarios that might trigger these feelings, even when doing so causes harm (Hayes et al., 2006). Experiential avoidance decreases our ability to explore and discover novel solutions and continue through challenging situations and restricts us in growth opportunities that require creativity and innovation (Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010;Kaufman, 2020). And the faster and more automatically that we label something as negative and subsequently seek to avoid it, the lower our well-being (Robinson, Vargas, Tamir, & Solberg, 2004). ...
Article
As humans, our tendency is to reduce uncertainty, leading us to want to hold things still rather than accept the inevitable change that comes (Langer, 2009). However, psychological and behavioral attempts to do so can result in clinging to outdated and erroneous information, limiting our perspectives and narrowing opportunities for meaningful choice. In this paper, we merge Western psychology and Eastern wisdom traditions and build upon conceptions of mindfulness from both perspectives, to present our theory of the micromoments mindset as a tool for well-being. We define a micromoment as both the instant opening into conscious awareness of the present moment, as well as the brief stretch of experience that follows, until awareness recedes. A micromoments mindset is the cognitive prioritization toward these openings. It serves as both an entryway into mindfulness and the experience of being more mindful within the micromoment. We argue that tapping into micromoments throughout our days can facilitate factors of well-being, particularly agency and connection, so that we have more tools for living with intention in the world of uncertainty and flux in which we find ourselves. We also present the PEACE framework for optimizing well-being within micromoments.
... These defensive coping strategies of habituation and dissociation are aimed to bypass and ease the checkpoint crossers' emotional pain, fear, self-harm, exposure to violence, and humiliation (Stellrecht et al., 2006). They are typical to trauma survivors in the context of armed conflicts (Peltonen and Punam?ki, 2010), adult refugees (Finklestein and Solomon, 2009), and war veterans ( Kashdan et al., 2010) and are similar to those described in studies that have investigated the effects of collective traumatic events, such as civil war, war conflicts, and disaster situations ( Abramowitz, 2005;Somasundaram, 2007Somasundaram, , 2010. Specifically, in the case of habituation, the repeated exposure to pain and violence may cause acclimatization to the violence that makes it less aversive and in some cases may lead to aggressive behaviors toward the self or others ( Guerra et al., 2003;Lev-Wiesel, 2005;Joiner et al., 2007), while in of dissociation, in attempt to disengage from traumatic memories the traumatic experience is not fully integrated into one's existing cognitive schemas (Lemos-Miller and Kearney, 2006;Shelef et al., 2014). ...
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The current study examined the psychological experience of Palestinians who daily cross an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoint to reach their schools or places of employment. The study employed an interpretative phenomenological analysis of semi-structured interviews and drawings to capture a depth insight regarding the psychological meaning of crossing the Qalandia checkpoint on a daily basis among 20 adult participants (10 males, 10 females). Three themes emerged. The first theme described deep feelings of distress and desperation and included the categories of humiliation and dehumanization, non-existence, rage, and pessimism and helplessness. The second theme concentrated on the participants’ coping strategies of avoidance and dissociation, which usually characterize maladaptive trauma coping style, as well as exhibited aggressiveness toward their fellow community members, while the third theme described the social fragmentation of the Palestinians’ solidarity. Furthermore, three pictorial phenomena emerged from the participants’ drawings: squared restricted drawings, the use of multiple black tiny objects, and the use of split drawings. These phenomena supported and validated participants’ verbal expressions. We suggest understanding these findings in light of the term “social suffering.”
... Clinicians working with returning veterans may aim to help them reduce use of expressive suppression, expand and diversify their emotion regulation skill repertoire, and practice flexibly shifting the skills they use to complement the current context. More effective, flexible emotion regulation may promote treatment response (Jerud, Zoellner, Pruitt, & Feeny, 2014), development of purpose and meaning (Kashdan et al., 2010), and long-term positive outcomes (Bonanno, Papa, Lalande, Westphal, & Coifman, 2004). (regarding the author: Lauren M. Sippel). ...
Article
Theories of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) implicate emotional processes, including difficulties utilizing adaptive emotion regulation strategies, as critical to the etiology and maintenance of PTSD. Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn (OIF/OEF/OND) veterans report high levels of combat exposure and PTSD. We aimed to extend findings suggesting that emotion regulation difficulties are a function of PTSD, rather than combat trauma exposure or common comorbidities, to OIF/OEF/OND veterans, in order to inform models of PTSD risk and recovery that can be applied to returning veterans. We tested differences in emotion regulation, measured with the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (Gratz & Roemer, 2004) and Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (Gross & John, 2003), among trauma-exposed veterans with (n=24) or without PTSD (n=22) and healthy civilian comparison participants (n=27) using multivariate analyses of covariance, controlling for major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders and demographic variables (age, sex, and ethinicity). Veterans with PTSD reported more use of expressive suppression and more difficulties with emotion regulation than veterans without PTSD and healthy comparison participants. Groups did not differ on cognitive reappraisal. Findings suggest the key role of PTSD above and beyond trauma exposure, depression, and anxiety in specific aspects of emotion dysregulation among OIF/OEF/OND veterans. Interventions that help veterans expand and diversify their emotion regulation skills may serve as helpful adjunctive treatments for PTSD among OIF/OEF/OND veterans.
... Enormous effort and energy devoted to self-control of thoughts and feelings diminishes contact with the present moment, interferes with progress towards valued goals, and yields impairments in the frequency and quality of positive events (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006). Individuals who inefficiently allocate resources to impression management and the regulation of anxious symptoms tend to show impairments in other goal-directed behaviors that require effort and intention (Finkel et al., 2006;Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010;Vohs et al., 2005). All else being equal, more socially anxious people, with this resource drain, show greater stress reactivity as they acquire less success and rewards when pursuing goals (e.g., Maner et al., 2007). ...
Article
When there is an opportunity to engage in an activity that can generate positive experiences, people with emotional disturbances might be expected to be less successful than other people. Despite the appeal of this formulation, there is reason to believe that attenuated positive experiences are only relevant to a selective number of disturbances. This chapter discusses recent advances in the phenomenology of social anxiety. This includes data showing that social anxiety is associated with low intensity, short-lived positive experiences, infrequent positive events, and distinct cognitive biases that restrict the quality of life. For decades, psychologists have advocated a single, bipolar continuum with positive emotions and approach behavior at one endpoint, and negative emotions and avoidance behavior as the other endpoint. However, recent research in personality, motivation, and social neuroscience suggests that there are two separate biobehavioral systems that reflect very different purposes. Specifically, on the one hand, there is an avoidance system whose purpose is to prevent people from being exposed to danger. To meet this aim, behavior that might lead to pain, punishment, or other undesirable outcomes is inhibited. On the other hand, independent from the avoidance system, there is an approach system whose purpose is to guide people toward situations that might offer rewards. To meet this aim, attention and energy are mobilized to pursue activities that can generate resources such as food, the cooperation of others, sexual partners, and knowledge that provides an evolutionary advantage for survival and reproduction.
... Indeed, the best predictor of client status 6 to 9 months posttreatment was if he were pursuing more positive and accurate self-definition, stronger relationships, and personal motivations. Results of this study appear to support research that indicates that the pursuit of a personally meaningful life has powerful psychological health benefits (Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010;Park, 2012;Steger, 2012;Wong, 2012;Zafirides, Markman, Proulx, & Lindberg, 2013). ...
Article
Evidence from existential-humanistic psychology suggests that addiction is a response to boredom, loneliness, meaninglessness, and other existential struggles. This research is a case study of an existential, meaning-centered therapy practiced at an addiction treatment facility. Meaning therapy assumes that addiction is a response to a life that lacks personal meaning. The solution, therefore, is to help the client live a fulfilling life. The research question asked if, and in what ways, meaning therapy influenced how participants made sense of their addiction and recovery. The study used a mixed-methods design. Sources of qualitative data were pretreatment and posttreatment interviews, psychiatric reports, researcher field notes, and participants’ life stories. Quantitative data were pretreatment and posttreatment measures of items relevant to meaning and symptom reduction. Eleven participants volunteered for the study. Themes that emerged during a grounded theory thematic analysis revealed that therapy positively influenced nine (81.8%) participants in developing self-definition, interpersonal relatedness, and intrinsic motivation. Quantitative analysis revealed significant increases in measures of meaning and decreases in symptoms and daily problems for seven participants (63.6%). About 6 to 9 months posttreatment, eight participants (72.7%) who pursed self-definition, relatedness, and intrinsic motivation reported abstinence since discharge, fewer symptoms and problems in daily life, and the pursuit of personal goals. This study provides therapists with a better understanding of meaning therapy and suggests implications for addiction treatment.
... Enormous effort and energy devoted to self-control of thoughts and feelings diminishes contact with the present moment, interferes with progress towards valued goals, and yields impairments in the frequency and quality of positive events (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006). Individuals who inefficiently allocate re- sources to impression management and the regulation of anxious symptoms tend to show impairments in other goal-directed behaviors that require effort and intention ( Finkel et al., 2006;Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010;Vohs et al., 2005). All else being equal, more socially anxious people, with this resource drain, show greater stress reactivity as they acquire less success and rewards when pursuing goals (e.g., Maner et al., 2007). ...
... Organizing one's life around attempts to regulate unwanted emotions can limit personal growth opportunities and diminish well-being. When asked what they think about, plan for, and try to accomplish in their daily lives, combat veterans with PTSD endorsed more idiographic strivings related to controlling and avoiding emotions (Kashdan, Breen, & Julian, 2010). Importantly, regulatory efforts failed to translate into discernible benefits such as joy or meaning in life. ...
Article
Existing models of trauma suggest that for recovery to occur, trauma related cues and emotions require awareness and openness while survivors continue committing action toward valued life aims (other than regulating emotions). Based on this theoretical framework, an unwillingness to be in contact with distressing thoughts and feelings (experiential avoidance) might operate together with posttraumatic distress to predict when people find benefits and meaning in the aftermath of trauma. We hypothesized that people reporting posttraumatic distress and less reliance on experiential avoidance would report greater posttraumatic growth and meaning in life compared with other trauma survivors. We administered questionnaires to 176 college students reporting at least one traumatic event. Results supported these moderation models. This is the fourth study (with different samples, measures, and methodologies) to provide evidence that a combination of excessive anxiety and a heavy reliance on experiential avoidance leads to attenuated well-being. We discuss the implications for understanding heterogeneous trauma reactions.
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Diminished positive experiences and events might be part of the phenomenology of social anxiety; however, much of this research is cross-sectional by design, limiting our understanding of the everyday lives of socially anxious people. Sexuality is a primary source of positive experiences. We theorized that people with elevated social anxiety would have relatively less satisfying sexual experiences compared to those who were not anxious. For 21 days, 150 college students described their daily sexual episodes. Social anxiety was negatively related to the pleasure and feelings of connectedness experienced when sexually intimate. The relationship between social anxiety and the amount of sexual contact differed between men and women-it was negative for women and negligible for men. Being in a close, intimate relationship enhanced the feelings of connectedness during sexual episodes for only individuals low in social anxiety. Depressive symptoms were negatively related to the amount of sexual contact, and the pleasure and feelings of connectedness experienced when sexually intimate. Controlling for depressive symptoms did not meaningfully change the social anxiety effects on daily sexuality. Our findings suggest that fulfilling sexual activity is often compromised by social anxiety.
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The present article presents and reviews the model of psychopathology and treatment underlying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is unusual in that it is linked to a comprehensive active basic research program on the nature of human language and cognition (Relational Frame Theory), echoing back to an earlier era of behavior therapy in which clinical treatments were consciously based on basic behavioral principles. The evidence from correlational, component, process of change, and outcome comparisons relevant to the model are broadly supportive, but the literature is not mature and many questions have not yet been examined. What evidence is available suggests that ACT works through different processes than active treatment comparisons, including traditional Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT). There are not enough well-controlled studies to conclude that ACT is generally more effective than other active treatments across the range of problems examined, but so far the data are promising.
Chapter
In this chapter, we propose to demonstrate that emotion-management strategies are fundamental for understanding individual differences in social support. Our basic assumption is that social interactions are, for the most part, transactions of affect; that is, social interchanges generate and are mediated by the affect of their participants. Manstead (1991b) has argued that there is a bidirectional relation between affect and social transactions. For example, affect has an impact on social perception and, in turn, the social context has an impact on the expression and experience of emotion.
Article
Worldwide, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is among the most common psychological disorders; over the past three decades researchers have made considerable progress in understanding the prevalence of PTSD and its psychological and biological underpinnings, while developing methods for its assessment and treatment. Only included in the diagnostic nomenclature since 1980, the history of PTSD extends as far back as the oldest literature in Western civilization. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey capture the impact of war on combatants and civilians, as do many of the works of writers and artists across the centuries. The focus of this chapter is on the integration of contemporary work on traumatic stress exposure, psychological dissociation, and the development of PTSD, a disorder characterized by concurrent high levels of anxiety and depression and, in many instances, considerable chronicity and disability. More than 50 randomized controlled treatment outcome studies suggest that cognitivebehavioral treatments are especially effective, and support the use of exposure therapy, stress management therapy, cognitive therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in treating PTSD. All these approaches constitute key evidence-based psychological treatments for PTSD. Future work will determine which treatments used by which therapists are best for patients with specific symptoms and concomitant conditions.
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An ACT Approach Chapter 1. What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahl, Kara Bunting, Michael Twohig, and Kelly G. Wilson Chapter 2. An ACT Primer: Core Therapy Processes, Intervention Strategies, and Therapist Competencies. Kirk D. Strosahl, Steven C. Hayes, Kelly G. Wilson and Elizabeth V. Gifford Chapter 3. ACT Case Formulation. Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahl, Jayson Luoma, Alethea A. Smith, and Kelly G. Wilson ACT with Behavior Problems Chapter 4. ACT with Affective Disorders. Robert D. Zettle Chapter 5. ACT with Anxiety Disorders. Susan M. Orsillo, Lizabeth Roemer, Jennifer Block-Lerner, Chad LeJeune, and James D. Herbert Chapter 6. ACT with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Alethea A. Smith and Victoria M. Follette Chapter 7. ACT for Substance Abuse and Dependence. Kelly G. Wilson and Michelle R. Byrd Chapter 8. ACT with the Seriously Mentally Ill. Patricia Bach Chapter 9. ACT with the Multi-Problem Patient. Kirk D. Strosahl ACT with Special Populations, Settings, and Methods Chapter 10. ACT with Children, Adolescents, and their Parents. Amy R. Murrell, Lisa W. Coyne, & Kelly G. Wilson Chapter 11. ACT for Stress. Frank Bond. Chapter 12. ACT in Medical Settings. Patricia Robinson, Jennifer Gregg, JoAnne Dahl, & Tobias Lundgren Chapter 13. ACT with Chronic Pain Patients. Patricia Robinson, Rikard K. Wicksell, Gunnar L. Olsson Chapter 14. ACT in Group Format. Robyn D. Walser and Jacqueline Pistorello
Article
Research on the nature of emotional disorders points toward a common set of diatheses (underlying psychological vulnerabilities) and functionally (but not superficially) similar expression of pathological emotional responding (e.g., Barlow, 2002). Successful drug treatments for different emotional disorders are very similar, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or related compounds in wide use. Successful psychological treatments, on the other hand, are currently specifically targeted to each individual disorder. Distilling common principles among existing empirically supported psychological treatments, and giving attention to new findings on emotion regulation and dysregulation from emotion science, we propose and describe a new unified psychological treatment for emotional disorders.
Article
The present research comprises two studies designed to investigate both antecedents and consequences of pursuing avoidance (relative to approach) personal goals over the course of a semester-long period. Results revealed that neuroticism was positively related to the adoption of avoidance personal strivings (Study 1), and participants with low perceptions of their life skills were more likely to adopt avoidance personal projects (Study 2). Avoidance regulation proved deleterious to both retrospective and longitudinal subjective well-being (SWB), as participants with a greater proportion of avoidance goals reported lower SWB over the course of the semester and evidenced a decrease in SWB from the beginning to the end of the semester. Ancillary analyses attested to the robustness of these results across a variety of alternative predictor variables. Path analyses validated perceived progress as a mediator of the direct relationships observed.
Article
The cross-cultural stability of the factorial structure of the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) was studied by comparing Israeli and American samples. The MPQ was translated into Hebrew and administered to 583 Israeli subjects. In the United States, a comparison group of 1,644 subjects completed the 300-item instrument. Replicatory factor analyses demonstrated the factorial stability of the MPQ's primary and higher order scales across the two cultures. Internal consistency analyses demonstrated satisfactory reliability of the Hebrew MPQ's scales. Three culture-specific MPQ items were replaced with items that were found to be more suitable for Israeli subjects. Comparisons of mean scores across cultures and gender were conducted to identify personality variables and gender differences that may be influenced by environmental factors that vary across the two cultures.
Article
As the scientific study of the individual person, personality psychology historically has struggled to provide the kind of broad conceptual framework capable of orienting theory and research around human individuality in cultural context. This article presents a new integrative framework for studying persons that brings together recent advances in the field of personality with the emerging social science emphasis on the narrative study of lives, while situating personality inquiry within the cultural context of contemporary modernity and the unique problems of the modem self The framework builds on a clear distinction between the ''I'' and the ''Me'' features of personality in the modem world and the delineation of three relatively independent levels on which modern persons may be described. In personality, the I may be viewed as the process of ''selfing,'' of narrating experience to create a modern self whereas the Me may be viewed as the self that the I constructs. Personality traits, like those included within the Big Five taxonomy, reside at Level I of personality description and provide a general, comparative, and nonconditional dispositional signature for the person. Level II subsumes tasks, goals, projects, tactics, defenses, values, and other developmental, motivational, and/or strategic concerns that contextualize a person's life in time, place, and role. Speaking directly to the modern problem of reflexively creating a unified and purposeful configuration of the Me, life stories reside at the third level of personality, as internalized integrative narrations of the personal past, present, and future. It is mainly through the psychosocial construction of life stories that modern adults create identity in the Me. Life stories may be examined in terms of their structure and content, function, development, individual differences, and relation to mental health and psychosocial adaptation.
Article
Interest in mindfulness and its enhancement has burgeoned in recent years. In this article, we discuss in detail the nature of mindfulness and its relation to other, established theories of attention and awareness in day-to-day life. We then examine theory and evidence for the role of mindfulness in curtailing negative functioning and enhancing positive outcomes in several important life domains, including mental health, physical health, behavioral regulation, and interpersonal relationships. The processes through which mindfulness is theorized to have its beneficial effects are then discussed, along with proposed directions for theoretical development and empirical research.
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This study investigated 3 broad classes of individual-differences variables (job-search motives, competencies, and constraints) as predictors of job-search intensity among 292 unemployed job seekers. Also assessed was the relationship between job-search intensity and reemployment success in a longitudinal context. Results show significant relationships between the predictors employment commitment, financial hardship, job-search self-efficacy, and motivation control and the outcome job-search intensity. Support was not found for a relationship between perceived job-search constraints and job-search intensity. Motivation control was highlighted as the only lagged predictor of job-search intensity over time for those who were continuously unemployed. Job-search intensity predicted Time 2 reemployment status for the sample as a whole, but not reemployment quality for those who found jobs over the study's duration. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This research explores the role of emotions in goal-directed behaviour. A model is provided for an emotional goal system whereby appraisals of the consequences of achieving or not achieving a goal are hypothesised to elicit anticipatory emotions; the anticipatory emotions are expected, in turn, to contribute to volitions in the service of goal pursuit (namely, intentions, plans, and the decision to expend energy); goal-directed behaviours next arise in response to volitions and lead to goal attainment; and the latter then functions as the basis for a new set of appraisals and accompanying goaloutcome emotions. The model was tested in a longitudinal study of the responses of 406 adults (243 women, 163 men) in The Netherlands. The context for the study was the regulation of one's bodyweight via exercising and dieting.
Article
This research investigated the relationship between clients' pursuit of avoidance (relative to approach) therapy goals and change in subjective well-being (SWB) from the beginning to the end of therapy. Results indicated that clients with more avoidance therapy goals evidenced a smaller increase in SWB over the course of therapy than those with fewer avoidance goals. Mediational analyses indicated that avoidance therapy goals predicted lower therapist satisfaction, lower therapist satisfaction predicted lower perceptions of therapy effectiveness (perceived problem improvement and perceived goal progress), and these lower perceptions of therapy effectiveness proximally predicted the observed change in SWB. Ancillary analyses linked the adoption of avoidance therapy goals to early parental loss through separation/divorce or death. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Examined relations between characteristics of personal goal strivings (e.g., importance, past attainment, effort) and components of subjective well-being (positive and negative affect and life satisfaction). 40 undergraduates generated lists of their personal strivings and rated each striving on a series of dimensions. Ss also recorded their moods and thoughts by use of an experience-sampling method on 84 occasions over a 3-wk period. Positive affect was found to be most strongly related to striving value and past fulfillment, whereas negative affect was associated with low probability of future success, striving ambivalence, and between-striving conflict. Striving importance and instrumentality (low conflict) were the strongest predictors of life satisfaction. Possible explanations for the connections between striving fulfillment and positive affect and between striving conflict and negative affect are discussed. It is concluded that the concept of personal striving is a useful heuristic device for understanding individual differences in subjective well-being. The concept is proposed as an alternative to the traditional trait approach to personality. (71 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
the purpose of this chapter is to outline the beginnings of a motivational approach to personality, focusing on idiographic goal strivings, or "personal strivings" / an objective of this chapter is to demonstrate that this approach has the potential to integrate the personological and social-experimental orientations to motivation current conceptions of motivation / historical background / personal strivings as units of analysis / relation to motives and values assessing personal striving / generation of striving lists / striving specification task / striving assessment scales / striving instrumentality matrix / coding of strivings / unconscious motivation empirical work on personal strivings / subjective well-being / conflict among strivings and well-being / conflict over expressing emotion and well-being / self-complexity and affective reactivity / personal strivings and personality traits / personal strivings and action identification theory / personal strivings and the self-concept / clinical implications / on the origin of personal strivings (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In this commentary we review the theoretical positions of Roemer and Orsillo and identify several key issues. First, the specificity of their arguments to generalized anxiety disorder (CAD) compared to the other anxiety disorders are explored. For example, the proposed distinctions between worry in CAD and worry associated with the other anxiety disorders are examined in light of available empirical evidence. Second, the proposed disjunctions between mental content and both actual experience and emotional/physiological responding are placed in the context of current theoretical and empirical work. Finally, possible therapeutic mechanisms of change for mindfulness/acceptance-based treatments and the roles of control and predictability in anxiety disorder treatment are discussed.
Chapter
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the only anxiety disorder for which a specific event is seen as responsible for the etiology of the symptoms. More specifically, PTSD is diagnosed when a person has been exposed to a potentially traumatic event (e.g., sexual assault, combat, motor vehicle accident), during which the person experienced intense fear, helplessness, or horror (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), followed by a particular constellation of resulting symptoms. There are three main classes of symptoms in PTSD: reexperiencing, avoidance, and arousal. Reexperiencing symptoms may include distressing memories, nightmares, flashbacks, and intense distress or physiological reactivity upon exposure to internal or external cues related to the event.
Article
Emotional numbing symptoms are considered in the clinical literature as cardinal signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and have been formally codified in DSM-III-R. However, the term has not been consistently defined nor adequately researched. The present paper critically reviews the extant empirical and theoretical literature in combat-related PTSD that has explored emotional numbing symptoms. A theoretical framework, based on Levanthal's (1984) perceptual-motor theory of emotion, is posited to account for the parameters of emotional processing in PTSD, and specific hypotheses concerning selective or differential emotional processing deficits in PTSD are described in order to clarify empirical issues about the development and maintenance of emotional processing deficits in PTSD and to stimulate future research in this underexplored, yet clinically important area.
Article
This study examined the role of two aspects of emotion in the psychological distress of individuals with and without a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). It was hypothesized that experiential avoidance and expressivity would mediate the relationship between CSA status and psychological distress. Ninety-nine participants completed measures that assessed for a CSA history, experiential avoidance, emotional expressivity, and psychological functioning. The results indicated that CSA status, experiential avoidance, and emotional expressivity were significantly related to psychological distress. However, only experiential avoidance mediated the relationship between CSA status and distress. These results contribute to the growing body of literature indicating that experiential avoidance has an influential role in the development of psychological symptoms.
Book
There are few topics so fascinating both to the research investigator and the research subject as the self-image. It is distinctively characteristic of the human animal that he is able to stand outside himself and to describe, judge, and evaluate the person he is. He is at once the observer and the observed, the judge and the judged, the evaluator and the evaluated. Since the self is probably the most important thing in the world to him, the question of what he is like and how he feels about himself engrosses him deeply. This is especially true during the adolescent stage of development.
Article
This article opens by noting that positive emotions do not fit existing models of emotions. Consequently, a new model is advanced to describe the form and function of a subset of positive emotions, including joy, interest, contentment, and love. This new model posits that these positive emotions serve to broaden an individual's momentary thought-action repertoire, which in turn has the effect of building that individual's physical, intellectual, and social resources. Empirical evidence to support this broaden-and-build model of positive emotions is reviewed, and implications for emotion regulation and health promotion are discussed.
Article
Happiness, or subjective well-being, was measured on a brith-record-based sample of several thousand middle-aged twins using the Well-Being (WB)scale of the Multidimensional Personality Questionnare. Neither socioeconomic status, educational attainment, family income, marital status, nor an indicant of religious commitment could acciunt for more than about 3% of the variance in WB. From 44% to 52% of the variance in WB, however, is associated with genetic variation. Based on the retest os smaller samples of twins after intervals of 4.5 and 10 years, we estimate that the heritability of the stable component of subjective well-being approaches 80%.
Article
Suicide is analyzed in terms of motivations to escape from aversive self-awareness. The causal chain begins with events that fall severely short of standards and expectations. These failures are attributed internally, which makes self-awareness painful. Awareness of the self's inadequacies generates negative affect, and the individual therefore desires to escape from self-awareness and the associated affect. The person tries to achieve a state of cognitive deconstruction (constricted temporal focus, concrete thinking, immediate or proximal goals, cognitive rigidity, and rejection of meaning), which helps prevent meaningful self-awareness and emotion. The deconstructed state brings irrationality and disinhibition, making drastic measures seem acceptable. Suicide can be seen as an ultimate step in the effort to escape from self and world.
Article
Research on emotions and several happiness scales suggest that positive and negative affect are strongly inversely correlated. However, work on subjective well-being indicates that over time, positive and negative affect are independent across persons. In order to reconcile this inconsistency, two dimensions are proposed for personal affective structure: the frequency of positive versus negative affect and the intensity of affect. Subjects in three studies completed daily and momentary reports on their moods. In support of the intensity dimension, the correlations between positive and negative intensity were strong and positive in all three studies. The intensities of specific emotions across persons were also highly correlated. Across the three studies the frequency and intensity of affect varied independently. Although average levels of positive and negative affect showed low correlations, this relation became strongly inverse when intensity was partialed out. Thus the intensity dimension helps explain the relative independence of positive and negative affect. In addition, emotional intensity is offered as a new personality dimension that manifests interesting characteristics.
Article
The present research investigated one antecedent and various consequences of pursuing avoidance personal achievement goals over the course of a semester. The authors assessed participants' achievement-relevant goals using the newly devised Achievement Goals Questionnaire. The motive to avoid failure, assessed with self-report and projective measures, was established as an antecedent of avoidance goal pursuit. Avoidance regulation was shown to have deleterious consequences for a host of achievement-relevant and general well-being outcomes at the end of the semester, including longitudinal change in subjective well-being. Perceived competence was validated as a mediator of the direct relationships observed. The results highlight the need to attend to avoidance, as well as approach, forms of self-regulation and the need to consider both motive disposition and goal constructs in accounting for competence-relevant behavior.
Article
This study examined the cardiovascular correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Vietnam combat veterans using 24-hr ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate monitoring. Veterans with PTSD (n = 11) exhibited significantly higher heart rate and diastolic blood pressure across the 24 hr than veterans without PTSD (n = 7) (80.8 vs. 71.9 bpm, and 80.1 vs. 71.5 mm Hg, respectively). Heart rate during sleep was also significantly higher among veterans with PTSD, compared to veterans without PTSD (71.0 vs. 62.7 bpm). These results, based on a more naturalistic measurement methodology used outside the laboratory, support an association between PTSD and increased chronic cardiovascular arousal.
Article
This study addressed the relations among personal strivings (daily goals) and future life goals and worst fears. Eighty undergraduate participants (62 women, 18 men) listed their daily goals, their ultimate life goals, and their worst fears, and completed questionnaire measures of subjective well-being. Daily goals were content-analyzed for relevance to attaining life goals or avoiding worst fears. Daily goals that were instrumental to life goals or that avoided worst fears were rated as more important but also more difficult by participants. Working on daily goals avoiding one's worst fears was negatively related to measures of subjective well-being, controlling for daily goal progress, difficulty, ambivalence, and importance. Working on daily goals that were instrumental to one's life goals only weakly predicted well-being. The avoidance of worst fears interacted with daily goal appraisals such that individuals who experienced little progress at daily goals that served to avoid their "worst case scenario" experienced the lowest levels of subjective well-being. In addition, progress at daily goals that were relevant to accomplishing one's life goals was significantly more strongly related to subjective well-being than progress at daily goals that were unrelated to one's life goals. Results indicate that daily goals are used to enact life goals and avoid worst fears and that these means--end relations have implications for well-being.
Article
Three studies demonstrated that avoidance personal goals are positively related to physical symptom reports. These results were obtained (a) using both longitudinal and retrospective methodologies and (b) controlling for neuroticism and other alternative predictor variables. In 2 of the studies, a process model was validated in which perceived competence and perceived controlledness were shown to mediate the observed relationship between avoidance goals and symptomatology. Specifically, avoidance goals predicted perceived competence and perceived controlledness, and these variables in turn predicted longitudinal and retrospective symptom reports. Ancillary results help clarify the unique roles of neuroticism and avoidance goals as predictors of physical symptomatology.
Article
An integrative model of the conative process, which has important ramifications for psychological need satisfaction and hence for individuals' well-being, is presented. The self-concordance of goals (i.e., their consistency with the person's developing interests and core values) plays a dual role in the model. First, those pursuing self-concordant goals put more sustained effort into achieving those goals and thus are more likely to attain them. Second, those who attain self-concordant goals reap greater well-being benefits from their attainment. Attainment-to-well-being effects are mediated by need satisfaction, i.e., daily activity-based experiences of autonomy, competence, and relatedness that accumulate during the period of striving. The model is shown to provide a satisfactory fit to 3 longitudinal data sets and to be independent of the effects of self-efficacy, implementation intentions, avoidance framing, and life skills.
Article
The emotional deficits associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are the least understood and the most understudied aspect of the syndrome. In this study, the connection was evaluated between trauma-context reactivity and subsequent emotional deficits in PTSD. Combat veterans with PTSD and well-adjusted veteran control participants were exposed to reminders of combat, after which their emotional behavior was assessed in response to a series of emotionally evocative images. Under the neutral condition, both groups exhibited emotional behavior modulated by stimulus valence. Partially consistent with the conceptual model described by B. Litz (1992), the PTSD group exhibited suppressed expressive-motor responses to positively valenced images, in comparison with the control group, only after being exposed to a trauma-related prime. Contrary to expectations, the PTSD group showed no augmentation of emotional response to negatively valenced cues after being exposed to trauma reminders. However, the PTSD group responded to all images, in both prime conditions, with higher heart rate reactivity, suggesting an automatic preparation for demand or threat in any uncertain emotional context. Possible causes and consequences of these results are discussed.
Article
The authors review evidence that self-control may consume a limited resource. Exerting self-control may consume self-control strength, reducing the amount of strength available for subsequent self-control efforts. Coping with stress, regulating negative affect, and resisting temptations require self-control, and after such self-control efforts, subsequent attempts at self-control are more likely to fail. Continuous self-control efforts, such as vigilance, also degrade over time. These decrements in self-control are probably not due to negative moods or learned helplessness produced by the initial self-control attempt. These decrements appear to be specific to behaviors that involve self-control; behaviors that do not require self-control neither consume nor require self-control strength. It is concluded that the executive component of the self--in particular, inhibition--relies on a limited, consumable resource.
Article
To expound on the nature of emotional deficits in PTSD, the current study investigated the relationships among emotion content and process variables and PTSD symptomatology in a sample of 85 veterans with military-related trauma. Alexithymic externally oriented thinking and negative affectivity emerged as the most consistent predictors of PTSD symptoms; however, depression was the only variable associated with emotional numbing. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed, as well as future research directions including the collateral and clinician assessment of emotional functioning, use of other process measures, and inclusion of various control groups.
Article
Although posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined by the experience of intense negative emotions and emotional numbing (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), empirical study of emotional responding in PTSD has been limited. This study examined emotional responding among women with and without PTSD to positive and negative film stimuli across self-reported experience, facial expression, and written expression. Consistent with previous findings, no evidence for generalized numbing was found. In general, women with PTSD exhibited higher levels of negative activation and expressed more negative emotion words to both positive and negative film stimuli, whereas no group differences emerged in facial expressivity. Results are interpreted within the context of the current literature on emotional deficits associated with PTSD.
Article
Experiential avoidance is the unwillingness to experience unwanted thoughts, emotions, or bodily sensations and an individual's attempts to alter, avoid, or escape those experiences. The aim of the current studies was to broaden previous research indicating that experiential avoidance often leads to the development and maintenance of psychological distress. Results indicated that experiential avoidance is significantly correlated with psychological distress and post-traumatic symptomatology over and above other measures of psychological functioning. Limitations and implications for treatment and prevention of psychological distress are discussed.