Article

Meaning in life buffers the impact of experiential avoidance on anxiety

If you want to read the PDF, try requesting it from the authors.

Abstract

Experiential avoidance (EA), or the unwillingness to remain in contact with aversive thoughts, feelings, and sensations, has been implicated as a risk and maintenance factor of anxiety. Yet research is mixed on the extent to which EA contributes to symptom exacerbation. Cross-sectional studies suggest EA has a large influence on anxiety whereas longitudinal findings suggest EA predicts small increases in distress. Inversely related to EA and anxiety, meaning in life (MIL) entails making sense of and finding worth in one's experiences while also pursuing life aims. By facilitating a person's perceived management of distress, MIL is expected to prevent EA from making anxiety worse. Participants (n = 317) completed measures of EA, MIL, and anxiety at baseline and 3–4 months later. The influence of EA and the moderating effect of MIL on anxiety were examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Longitudinally, MIL changed the relationship between EA and changes in anxiety, such that when MIL was high, EA no longer predicted increased symptoms. Findings suggest that although EA is a vulnerability for anxiety, MIL buffers the small effect it has on later distress.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... x una evitación de algún tipo de emoción, pensamientos u otros eventos personales relacionados con la pérdida de sentido vital. En cualquier caso, la combinación de alta EE y bajo sentido vital parece favorecer la ansiedad (Kelso, Kashdan, Imamoğlu y Ashraf, 2020). Los resultados de este estudio sugieren que esta combinación también tiene efectos nocivos en cuanto al uso abusivo de las redes sociales. ...
Preprint
This study examined the roles of anxiety, experiential avoidance and meaning in life in the abusive use of social networks. Participants in the study (N = 235: 172 women, 62 men, 1 non-binary) volunteered to complete a brief online survey measuring experiential avoidance, anxiety and meaning in life. Correlational and linear regression analyses were performed controlling for age in both the total sample and the subsamples of men and women. The partial correlation analyses showed that, once age was controlled for experiential avoidance, anxiety and meaning in life were related to the abusive use of social networks in women, while for men, only anxiety was significant. For women the linear regression equation which best predicted abusive use of social networks included little meaning in life and high experiential avoidance. For men, only anxiety was a possible predictive factor of abusive use of social networks. These results are discussed with regard to existing research on abusive use of social networks, noting the possible protective effect of meaning in life and calling greater attention to gender differences in behaviors related to online social networks. Keywords: Anxiety; experiential avoidance; meaning in life; internet; addictive behavior. El presente estudio examinó el papel de la ansiedad, la evitación experiencial y el sentido vital en el uso abusivo de redes sociales. Los participantes (N = 235: 172 mujeres, 62 hombres, 1 no-binario) completaron una breve encuesta dirigida a medir la evitación experiencial, la ansiedad y el sentido vital. Se llevaron a cabo análisis de regresión lineal y correlaciones controlando la influencia de la edad tanto para hombres como para mujeres. Los análisis de correlación parcial mostraron que, una vez controlada la edad de los participantes, tanto la evitación experiencial como la ansiedad y el sentido vital estuvieron relacionados con el uso abusivo de redes sociales en mujeres; sin embargo, para los varones, sólo la ansiedad se relacionó con un mayor uso de redes sociales. Para las mujeres la ecuación de regresión lineal que mejor predijo el uso abusivo de redes sociales incluyó un bajo sentido vital y una elevada evitación experiencial, mientras que para los varones sólo la ansiedad predijo el mayor uso de redes sociales. Los resultados obtenidos se discuten en relación con la investigación existente sobre el uso de las redes sociales, destacando el sentido vital como un posible factor protector y la importancia de una perspectiva de género para estudiar las redes sociales en línea. Palabras clave: Ansiedad; evitación experiencial; sentido vital; internet; conducta adictiva.
... x una evitación de algún tipo de emoción, pensamientos u otros eventos personales relacionados con la pérdida de sentido vital. En cualquier caso, la combinación de alta EE y bajo sentido vital parece favorecer la ansiedad (Kelso, Kashdan, Imamoğlu y Ashraf, 2020). Los resultados de este estudio sugieren que esta combinación también tiene efectos nocivos en cuanto al uso abusivo de las redes sociales. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the roles of anxiety, experiential avoidance and meaning in life in the abusive use of social networks. Participants in the study (N = 235: 172 women, 62 men, 1 non-binary) volunteered to complete a brief online survey measuring experiential avoidance, anxiety and meaning in life. Correlational and linear regression analyses were performed controlling for age in both the total sample and the subsamples of men and women. The partial correlation analyses showed that, once age was controlled for experiential avoidance, anxiety and meaning in life were related to the abusive use of social networks in women, while for men, only anxiety was significant. For women the linear regression equation which best predicted abusive use of social networks included little meaning in life and high experiential avoidance. For men, only anxiety was a possible predictive factor of abusive use of social networks. These results are discussed with regard to existing research on abusive use of social networks, noting the possible protective effect of meaning in life and calling greater attention to gender differences in behaviors related to online social networks.
... The fact that problematic emotion control strategies may be helpful for a while may confirm the belief that these emotions should be avoided, and may lead to further catastrophizing the problem, and the fact that these emotions keep coming back makes the individual feel more desperate in relying on these problematic strategies and further confirm beliefs about emotions (Leahy, 2015). On the other hand, if experiential avoidance is directed towards a meaningful, value riden activity instead of solely distracting oneself to avoid distressing thoughts, then it may not be that problematic and can even increase the sense of control over emotional discomfort (Kelso et al., 2020). Personal empowerment can be built by accepting painful emotions as part of life which may hold difficulties in itself (Leahy, 2015), but suffering is personal and unique for each individual. ...
Article
Full-text available
The current study aimed to investigate the mediating role of negative beliefs about emotion and psychological inflexibility on the relationship between childhood maltreatment and emotional distress. A total of 519 participants completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21), the Leahy Emotional Schema Scale II (LESS-II), and the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II). All scales were significantly correlated. Two mediation analyses were tested. In the first model negative beliefs about emotion and psychological inflexibility mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and emotional distress measured by DASS-21 total score. In the second model, negative beliefs about emotion and psychological inflexibility mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and depression, anxiety, and stress measured by the subscales of DASS-21. Results suggest that maltreatment in childhood is associated with the individuals’ approaches, plans and strategies in response to emotions, and psychological inflexibility which together further determine emotional distress.
... Several studies also noted a connection between meaningfulness of life and lower levels of anxiety, including health-related anxiety (Yek, Olendzki, Kekecs, Patterson, & Elkins, 2017). For example, meaningfulness in life acts as a bu er between anxious feelings and experiential avoidance (unwillingness to remain in contact with aversive thoughts) (Kelso, Kashdan, Imamoğlu, & Ashraf, 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
Background. !e COVID-19 outbreak and the measures taken to curb it have changed people’s lives and a"ected their psychological well-being. Many studies have shown that hardiness has reduced the adverse e"ects of stressors, but this has not been researched in the Russian COVID-19 situation yet. Objective. To assess the role of hardiness and meaningfulness as resources to cope with stress and minimize its e"ects on psychological wellbeing. Design. !e study was conducted March 24–May 15, 2020 on a sample of 949 people (76.7% women), aged 18–66 years (M = 30.55, Me = 27, SD = 11.03). !e data was divided into four time-periods, cut o" by the dates of signi$cant decisions by the Russian authorities concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. !e questionnaires were: Beck Anxiety and Depression Inventories, Symptom Check-list-90-R, Noetic Orientations Test, and Personal Views Survey-III. Results. Welch’s ANOVA showed signi$cant di"erences between the time-periods in meaningfulness, hardiness, anxiety, depression, and the General Symptomatic Index (GSI) (W = 4.899, p < 0.01; W = 3.173, p < 0.05; W = 8.096, p < 0.01; W = 3.244, p < 0.022; and W = 4.899, p < 0.01, respectively). General linear models for anxiety, depression, and GSI showed that biological sex, chronic diseases, self-assessed fears, and hardiness contributed to all of them. In all three models, hardiness had the most signi$cant impact. Anxiety was also in%uenced by the time factor, both in itself and in its interaction with hardiness levels. With less hardiness, more anxiety occurred over time. Conclusion. Hardiness was shown to be a personal adaptive resource in stressful situations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Article
Full-text available
The Multidimensional Psychological Flexibility Inventory (MPFI), a 60-item self-report measure, assesses the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Hexaflex. The factor structure of the MPFI was examined in this study. In a community sample of adults (N = 827), four models (correlated six-factor, one-factor, higher-order, and bifactor) were tested for each of the constructs of interest (i.e., psychological flexibility [PF] and psychological inflexibility [PI]). All models, with the exception of the one-factor, provided adequate fit to the data. Differences between the three adequate fitting models were trivial in magnitude. Additional statistical indices from the bifactor models indicated that the general factors accounted for the large majority of reliable variance. The majority of the domain-specific factors evidenced redundancy with their respective general factors. Results from a series of structural regressions indicated that the domain-specific factors did not provide additional incremental utility above and beyond the general factors in predicting two relevant clinical constructs (i.e., health anxiety and depression). These results provide support for the use of the MPFI Flexibility and Inflexibility total scores, but not subscale scores. The MPFI may require further refinement to either greatly reduce the length of the measure, or to ensure that subscales have incremental utility.
Article
Full-text available
Avoidance is typically considered a maladaptive behavioral response to excessive fear and anxiety, leading to the maintenance of anxiety disorders. Exposure is a core element of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders. One important aspect of this treatment is repeated and prolonged exposure to a threat while discouraging patients from using avoidance strategies, such as escape or safety behaviors. We will first revisit the role of avoidance learning in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders, including important insights from the neuroscience literature. Next, we will consider both the negative and positive aspects of avoidance for therapeutic interventions. Finally, we will explore the application of adaptive avoidance in exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. We will argue that there are occasions when avoidance behaviors can serve as effective coping strategies to enhance the person's perception of control over the environment and the potential threat. We conclude that avoidance behaviors can be a valuable therapeutic element, depending on the function of these behaviors.
Article
Full-text available
To investigate (a) the incremental predictive validity of experiential avoidance over and above bordering psychological constructs (i.e., rumination, worry, neuroticism and anxiety sensitivity) in predicting onset, relapse and maintenance of anxiety disorders; and (b) whether these related constructs can be represented by a single, higher-order latent factor with similar predictive power as the separate psychological constructs while offering a more parsimonious predictive model. Longitudinal cohort study with repeated assessments after 4 years in a sample of 2157 adults aged 18–65, consisting of 1614 persons with past or current anxiety disorder (Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia without panic) according to the Composite Interview Diagnostic Instrument (CIDI) and 543 controls. Experiential avoidance (Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-I) manifested substantial overlap with bordering cognitive constructs. Experiential avoidance and anxiety sensitivity both uniquely predicted maintenance of anxiety disorders and neuroticism uniquely predicted relapse of anxiety disorders, over and above the effect of the other cognitive constructs. Moreover, a latent factor of psychological vulnerability loaded strongly on each of these psychological constructs. This latent factor predicted onset, maintenance and relapse of anxiety disorders. The tendency to frequently experience strong negative emotions, to evaluate these experiences as aversive and to engage in avoidant coping strategies may constitute a transdiagnostic factor predictive of anxiety disorders. Further developing and testing of interventions targeting transdiagnostic construct underlying anxiety and mood disorders seem warranted.
Chapter
Full-text available
The chapter presents theoretical concepts and research findings related to relationship between stress and meaning in life. Author reviews theories of coping stress resistance which included meaning in their models, as sense of coherence (SOC) of Antonovsky, hardiness of Maddi and Kobasa, as well as theories based on congruence and meaning in life reconstruction, such as Janoff-Bulmann fundamental assumptions or Park’s meaning—congruence model. Part of the chapter is focused on the empirical evidence which supports positive role of meaning in coping with stress. Both qualitative and quantitative studies suggested that higher level of meaning is related to lower perception of stress or better coping, or they specifically described how meaning-making is involved in the process of coping with stress and trauma. The important role in coping processes is played by meaning-based or meaning-focused coping, which is appraisal-based coping in which the person draws on their beliefs, values, and existential goals. This kind of coping is related to better psychological functioning and lower distress. Special focus is given to the role of meaning as a buffer against negative impact of stress. Research confirmed that high sense of meaning prevent person from negative coping or depression. The author concludes that there are three ways how meaning in life can have effect on coping. Individual resources of meaning act as resources for coping, high life meaningfulness can act as a buffer against the negative consequences of stress, and meaning-based coping (positive reinterpretation, benefit findings) can contribute to better psychological adjustment during or after stressful event.
Article
Full-text available
Despite growing interest in meaning in life, many have voiced their concern over the conceptual refinement of the construct itself. Researchers seem to have two main ways to understand what meaning in life means: coherence and purpose, with a third way, significance, gaining increasing attention. Coherence means a sense of comprehensibility and one’s life making sense. Purpose means a sense of core goals, aims, and direction in life. Significance is about a sense of life’s inherent value and having a life worth living. Although some researchers have already noted this trichotomy, the present article provides the first comprehensible theoretical overview that aims to define and pinpoint the differences and connections between these three facets of meaning. By arguing that the time is ripe to move from indiscriminate understanding of meaning into looking at these three facets separately, the article points toward a new future for research on meaning in life.
Article
Full-text available
Increasing attention has been paid to incorporating spirituality into social work practice. Meaning in life is an important part of clients' spirituality which social workers need to assess. This study therefore focused on meaning in life and aimed to validate the Chinese version of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ) (C-MLQ) and examine the psychometric properties of the C-MLQ among clinical Hong Kong Chinese populations. Data coming from three different groups—students, older adults and family care-givers—were included for analysis. The groups were recruited from the university, residential care homes and hospitals, respectively. A total of 179 students, 223 family care-givers and 78 older adults were included. The validity and reliability of the C-MLQ were examined. The C-MLQ was found to be a valid and reliable measure in both student and clinical samples. Significant positive correlation was found between two subscales of the C-MLQ, Presence and Search, in clinical samples. Our findings suggest that this positive relationship may be particularly prominent among the clinical samples in the Asian context, which is different from what was found in the West. Findings may shed light on social workers' culturally sensitive practice. The C-MLQ is recommended as a valid assessment tool in social work practice.
Article
Full-text available
A number of individual difference factors, including emotional distress intolerance (EDI), experiential avoidance (EA), and anxiety sensitivity (ASI), have been implicated in the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptomatology. Attentional control (AC) has been shown to serve as a protective factor against the development of maladaptive psychological outcomes across a number of studies, even among those with outcome-specific vulnerabilities. The purpose of the present study was to examine AC as a moderator of the relations between three constructs pertaining to the way that people relate to their internal experiences (i.e., EDI, EA, AS) and PTS symptoms among a trauma exposed community sample (N=903). As predicted, AC moderated the relations between each individual difference factor and PTS symptoms, such that as attentional control decreased, the strength of the association between each individual difference factor and PTS symptoms increased. Study results suggest that AC abilities may be one factor that differentiates those who recover from trauma from those who do not, even among those who may be vulnerable for developing PTS symptomatology. Clinical implications and results of a PTS cluster level analysis will be discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Cross-sectional research has shown that the association between anxiety sensitivity (i.e., a trait-like fear of anxiety-related bodily sensations due to beliefs that these sensations engender negative outcomes) and anxiety becomes stronger as experiential avoidance (i.e., an unwillingness to stay in contact with unwanted inner experiences) increases. The present study sought to extend cross-sectional research by examining whether the moderating impact of experiential avoidance would be observed when examining anxiety sensitivity as a prospective predictor of anxiety over the course of two assessment sessions (T1 and T2). Participants (N = 135) were non-treatment seeking undergraduate students. As predicted, T1 experiential avoidance moderated the relationship between T1 anxiety sensitivity and T2 anxiety, even after accounting for T1 anxiety. The interaction was tested with simple slopes analysis and results suggest that anxiety sensitivity may only be a vulnerability factor for the development of anxiety among those who are prone to higher levels of experiential avoidance. Thus, experiential avoidance may be a particularly important treatment target among individuals with high anxiety sensitivity.
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the effect of safety behavior on belief change during a behavioral experiment. Highly spider fearful participants (N = 126) evaluated a targeted negative belief about spiders during a brief behavioral experiment with a live tarantula. Participants were randomly assigned either to use or not use safety gear during the session. Results demonstrated that after the behavioral experiment, targeted negative beliefs were significantly lower in the safety gear condition than in the control condition. Both conditions benefited from comparable improvements across a broader constellation of negative spider-related beliefs. Safety gear facilitated closer approach to the spider during the session; however, participants who did not use safety gear experienced greater improvement in perceived control. These findings suggest that safety behavior need not impair corrective learning during cognitive-behavioral interventions and that it might indeed enhance it. Results are discussed in terms of cognitive-behavioral treatments for anxiety disorders and of the role of safety behavior therein.
Article
Full-text available
The 62-item Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (MEAQ) was recently developed to assess a broad range of experiential avoidance (EA) content. However, practical clinical and research considerations made a briefer measure of EA desirable. Using items from the original 62-item MEAQ, a 15-item scale was created that tapped content from each of the MEAQ's six dimensions. Items were selected on the basis of their performance in 3 samples: undergraduates (n = 363), psychiatric outpatients (n = 265), and community adults (n = 215). These items were then evaluated using 2 additional samples (314 undergraduates and 201 psychiatric outpatients) and cross-validated in 2 new, independent samples (283 undergraduates and 295 community adults). The resulting measure (Brief Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire; BEAQ) demonstrated good internal consistency. It also exhibited strong convergence with respect to each of the MEAQ's 6 dimensions. The BEAQ demonstrated expected associations with measures of avoidance, psychopathology, and quality of life and was distinguishable from negative affectivity and neuroticism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Full-text available
The factor structure, reliability, and validity of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS; S. H. Lovibond & P. F. Lovibond, 1995) and the 21-item short form of these measures (DASS–21 ) were examined in nonclinical volunteers ( n = 49) and patients with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) diagnoses of panic disorder ( n =  67), obsessive-compulsive disorder ( n = 54), social phobia ( n = 74), specific phobia ( n = 17), and major depressive disorder ( n = 46). This study replicates previous findings indicating that the DASS distinguishes well between features of depression, physical arousal, and psychological tension and agitation and extends these observations to the DASS–21. In addition, the internal consistency and concurrent validity of the DASS and DASS–21 were in the acceptable to excellent ranges. Mean scores for the various groups were similar to those in previous research, and in the expected direction. The implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
Syndromal classification is a well-developed diagnostic system but has failed to deliver on its promise of the identification of functional pathological processes. Functional analysis is tightly connected to treatment but has failed to develop testable, replicable classification systems. Functional diagnostic dimensions are suggested as a way to develop the functional classification approach, and experiential avoidance is described as 1 such dimension. A wide range of research is reviewed showing that many forms of psychopathology can be conceptualized as unhealthy efforts to escape and avoid emotions, thoughts, memories, and other private experiences. It is argued that experiential avoidance, as a functional diagnostic dimension, has the potential to integrate the efforts and findings of researchers from a wide variety of theoretical paradigms, research interests, and clinical domains and to lead to testable new approaches to the analysis and treatment of behavioral disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
Counseling psychologists often work with clients to increase their well-being as well as to decrease their distress. One important aspect of well-being, highlighted particularly in humanistic theories of the counseling process, is perceived meaning in life. However, poor measurement has hampered research on meaning in life. In 3 studies, evidence is provided for the internal consistency, temporal stability, factor structure, and validity of the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (MLQ), a new 10-item measure of the presence of, and the search for, meaning in life. A multitrait-multimethod matrix demonstrates the convergent and discriminant validity of the MLQ subscales across time and informants, in comparison with 2 other meaning scales. The MLQ offers several improvements over current meaning in life measures, including no item overlap with distress measures, a stable factor structure, better discriminant validity, a briefer format, and the ability to measure the search for meaning.
Article
Full-text available
Background: Cognitive models propose that social anxiety arises from specific dysfunctional cognitions about the likelihood and severity of embarrassment. Relational frame theory (RFT), on the other hand, posits that social anxiety arises from the unwillingness to endure unpleasant internal experiences (i.e. experiential avoidance [EA]). Although cognitive models have garnered empirical support, it may be that newer models such as RFT can improve our ability to predict and treat social anxiety. Aims: We aimed to elucidate the relationship between dysfunctional cognitions and EA, as well as their independent and relative contributions to the prediction of social anxiety symptoms. We hypothesized that dysfunctional cognitions and EA would each be associated with social anxiety, as well as with each other. We also predicted that both EA and dysfunctional cognitions would remain independent predictors of social anxiety symptoms after controlling for each other and general distress. Method: Undergraduates high (n = 173) and low (n = 233) in social anxiety completed measures of social anxiety, dysfunctional cognitions, EA, and general distress. The overall sample was 66.3% female; mean age = 20.01 years (SD = 2.06). Results: Correlational analyses revealed that EA, dysfunctional cognitions, and social anxiety symptoms were moderately correlated with one another. Additionally, hierarchical regression analyses revealed that dysfunctional cognitions predicted social anxiety symptoms even after controlling for EA; the reverse was not found. Conclusions: RESULTS suggest that EA and social anxiety specific cognitive distortions overlap to a moderate extent. EA does not add to the prediction of social anxiety symptoms above and beyond dysfunctional cognitions. Additional theoretical and treatment implications of the results are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Interest in meaning and meaning making in the context of stressful life events continues to grow, but research is hampered by conceptual and methodological limitations. Drawing on current theories, the author first presents an integrated model of meaning making. This model distinguishes between the constructs of global and situational meaning and between "meaning-making efforts" and "meaning made," and it elaborates subconstructs within these constructs. Using this model, the author reviews the empirical research regarding meaning in the context of adjustment to stressful events, outlining what has been established to date and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of current empirical work. Results suggest that theory on meaning and meaning making has developed apace, but empirical research has failed to keep up with these developments, creating a significant gap between the rich but abstract theories and empirical tests of them. Given current empirical findings, some aspects of the meaning-making model appear to be well supported but others are not, and the quality of meaning-making efforts and meanings made may be at least as important as their quantity. This article concludes with specific suggestions for future research.
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
The authors describe how contemporary learning theory and research provide the basis for perspectives on the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders that capture the complexity associated with individual differences in the development and course of these disorders. These insights from modern research on learning overcome the shortcomings of earlier overly simplistic behavioral approaches, which sometimes have been justifiably criticized. The authors show how considerations of early learning histories and temperamental vulnerabilities affect the short- and long-term outcomes of experiences with stressful events. They also demonstrate how contextual variables during and following stressful learning events affect the course of anxiety disorder symptoms once they develop. This range of variables can lead to a rich and nuanced understanding of the etiology and course of anxiety disorders.
Article
Full-text available
The meaning maintenance model (MMM) proposes that people have a need for meaning; that is, a need to perceive events through a prism of mental representations of expected relations that organizes their perceptions of the world. When people's sense of meaning is threatened, they reaffirm alternative representations as a way to regain meaning-a process termed fluid compensation. According to the model, people can reaffirm meaning in domains that are different from the domain in which the threat occurred. Evidence for fluid compensation can be observed following a variety of psychological threats, including most especially threats to the self, such as self-esteem threats, feelings of uncertainty, interpersonal rejection, and mortality salience. People respond to these diverse threats in highly similar ways, which suggests that a range of psychological motivations are expressions of a singular impulse to generate and maintain a sense of meaning.
Article
Experiential avoidance (also referred to as acceptance or psychological flexibility) is a core construct of third-wave behavior therapies. It is the tendency to avoid uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, even when doing so has negative long-term consequences. In order for developments in experiential avoidance and third-wave behavior therapies to continue, it is imperative to examine the construct validity of the most widely used measures of this construct, the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) and the Multidimensional Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire (MEAQ). In Amazon's Mechanical Turk (N = 1,052) and college (N = 364) samples, we evaluated the construct validity of these measures. The AAQ-II demonstrated suboptimal patterns of convergent and discriminant validity with measures of neuroticism/negative affect (Big Five Inventory, Big Five Aspects Scale, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule), the MEAQ, and mindfulness (Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire). In contrast, the MEAQ demonstrated optimal convergent and discriminant validity. Factor analyses at the scale, subscale, and item levels demonstrated that the AAQ-II loads with indicators of neuroticism/negative affect and not with other constructs at the core of third-wave behavior therapies. In contrast, the MEAQ loads on factors with mindfulness or forms its own factors. These findings suggest the AAQ-II functions as a measure of neuroticism/negative affect, whereas the MEAQ functions as an indicator of experiential avoidance. These findings have substantial implications for research on experiential avoidance and third-wave behavior therapies. Therefore, in order to improve the theory, research, and practice of third-wave behavior therapies, we recommend using the MEAQ to assess experiential avoidance.
Article
Accumulating evidence suggests that a global sense of meaning in life is related to physical health, including increased longevity and reduced morbidity. However, the mechanisms responsible for these relationships remain largely unknown and uninvestigated. Moreover, there is no unifying conceptual framework linking meaning in life to physical health. Our aims are to (a) review the literature linking meaning in life to potential mechanisms associated with better physical health; (b) offer a comprehensive conceptual framework associating meaning in life with physical health; and (c) introduce a new construct, meaning salience, as a potentially important intermediary mechanism. Specifically, we review the evidence suggesting that meaning in life is associated with reduced stress, more adaptive coping, and greater engagement in health-promoting behaviors. Our model proposes that effects of global sense of meaning are potentiated through increased meaning salience, or daily awareness of meaning in the moment, which enhances self-regulation. Suggestions are proposed for empirically examining this new model.
Article
The first wave of behavior therapy countered the excesses and scientific weakness of existing nonempirical clinical traditions through empirically studied first-order change efforts linked to behavioral principles targeting directly relevant clinical targets. The second wave was characterized by similar direct change efforts guided by social learning and cognitive principles that included cognitive in addition to behavioral and emotive targets. Various factors seem to have set the stage for a third wave, including anomalies in the current literature and philosophical changes. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one of a number of new interventions from both behavioral and cognitive wings that seem to be moving the field in a different direction. ACT is explicitly contextualistic and is based on a basic experimental analysis of human language and cognition, Relational Frame Theory (RFT). RFT explains why cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance are both ubiquitous and harmful. ACT targets these processes and is producing supportive data both at the process and outcome level. The third-wave treatments are characterized by openness to older clinical traditions, a focus on second order and contextual change, an emphasis of function over form, and the construction of flexible and effective repertoires, among other features. They build on the first- and second-wave treatments, but seem to be carrying the behavior therapy tradition forward into new territory.
Article
Meaning in life has been found to be a protective factor against suicidal ideation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether meaning in life can moderate and buffer the association between suicide risk factors and hopelessness in women with borderline personality disorders. One hundred twenty-four women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder completed self-report measures of suicide risk factors, hopelessness, and meaning in life. The main result from this study was that meaning in life moderated the association between suicide risk factors and hopelessness. Meaning in life is an important variable in the prevention and treatment of risk of suicide in women with borderline personality disorder.
Book
The Book is the Italian Edition of M-M: Linehan DBT skills training manual pp.900
Article
A theory of ironic processes of mental control is proposed to account for the intentional and counterintentional effects that result from efforts at self-control of mental states. The theory holds that an attempt to control the mind introduces 2 processes: (a) an operating process that promotes the intended change by searching for mental contents consistent with the intended state and (b) a monitoring process that tests whether the operating process is needed by searching for mental contents inconsistent with the intended state. The operating process requires greater cognitive capacity and normally has more pronounced cognitive effects than the monitoring process, and the 2 working together thus promote whatever degree of mental control is enjoyed. Under conditions that reduce capacity, however, the monitoring process may supersede the operating process and thus enhance the person's sensitivity to mental contents that are the ironic opposite of those that are intended.
Article
Temptation to drink (TTD), defined as the degree to which one feels compelled to drink in the presence of internal or external alcohol-related cues, has been shown to predict alcohol-treatment outcomes among individuals with alcohol-use disorders (AUDs). Research examining TTD from an existential perspective is lacking and little is known about how existential issues such as purpose in life (PIL) relate to TTD, which is surprising given the role of existential issues in many treatments and mutual help approaches for AUDs. In the current study, we examined the longitudinal associations in a sample of 1726 among TTD, PIL, and drinking outcomes using data from Project MATCH (1997, 1998). Parallel process latent growth curve analyses indicated that PIL and TTD were significantly associated across time, such that higher initial levels of PIL and increases in PIL over time were associated with lower initial levels of TTD and decreases in TTD over time. Higher initial levels of TTD, lower initial levels of PIL, increases in TTD, and decreases in PIL were significantly associated with greater intensity and frequency of drinking and greater drinking-related consequences at the 15-month follow-up. Accordingly, TTD and PIL may be important constructs for clinicians to consider throughout the course of treatment. Future studies should examine if and how various kinds of treatments for AUDs are associated with increases in PIL, and whether these increases are related to decreased TTD and reduced drinking. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Using self-determination theory as a guiding framework, the purpose of this study was to investigate if mindfulness and meaning in life were correlated and if the four components of authenticity (i.e., awareness, unbiased processing, behavior, and relational orientation) mediated this relation. We tested this with a multiple mediator model using bootstrapped estimates. Supporting our hypotheses, mindfulness positively correlated with meaning in life, but this relation was no longer significant once the four components of authenticity were included in the model. Contrary to study predictions, only the awareness component of authenticity positively mediated the relation between mindfulness and meaning in life. Although unbiased processing also mediated the relation, it did so inversely, suggesting that after controlling for other aspects of authenticity, unbiased processing had a negative relation with meaning in life. Relational orientation and behavior were not significant mediators. The authors conclude that increased self-awareness may explain the positive relation between mindfulness and meaning in life. Implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.
Article
Spirituality and purpose in life have been associated with positive mental health outcomes. This study examined the effects of spirituality, religiousness, and purpose in life on self-objectification and disordered eating. An ethnically diverse sample of college women (N = 161), aged 18–25, who were enrolled in the undergraduate level psychology courses, participated by completing a survey assessing relational spirituality, intrinsic religiousness, and purpose in life, as well as self-objectification and disordered eating. Results supported a relationship between self-objectification and disordered eating. Intrinsic religiousness was also associated with self-objectification after controlling for religious affiliation. In addition, women who had less purpose in their lives displayed more disordered eating. These findings suggest that a sense of purpose in life may be a key dimension of spirituality that is associated with eating disturbance.
Article
The present study seeks to investigate the extent to which the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II) is successful in discriminating between experiential avoidance/psychological flexibility on the one hand and the supposed outcomes in terms of psychological well-being of having this trait on the other. This was done using exploratory factor analysis on an item pool containing the AAQ-II items, and items designed for the present study to measure distress and acceptance/non-acceptance, to see what factors are identified and on which factor(/s) the AAQ-II items had the highest factor loadings. Interestingly, the analysis found the items of the AAQ-II to be more strongly related to items designed to measure distress than items designed to measure acceptance/non-acceptance with minimal references to functional outcomes. The results of the study are interpreted and discussed in relation to the widespread use of the AAQ in both clinical and scientific contexts and given the centrality of the measure in empirically validating the ACT model of psychopathology and treatment.
Article
Experiential avoidance (EA), the tendency to avoid internal, unwanted thoughts and feelings, is hypothesized to be a risk factor for social anxiety. Existing studies of experiential avoidance rely on trait measures with minimal contextual consideration. In two studies, we examined the association between experiential avoidance and anxiety within real-world social interactions. In the first study, we examined the effect of experiential avoidance on social anxiety in everyday life. For 2 weeks, 37 participants with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and 38 healthy controls provided reports of experiential avoidance and social anxiety symptoms during face-to-face social interactions. Results showed that momentary experiential avoidance was positively related to anxiety symptoms during social interactions and this effect was stronger among people with SAD. People low in EA showed greater sensitivity to the level of situational threat than high EA people. In the second study, we facilitated an initial encounter between strangers. Unlike Study 1, we experimentally created a social situation where there was either an opportunity for intimacy (self-disclosure conversation) or no such opportunity (small-talk conversation). Results showed that greater experiential avoidance during the self-disclosure conversation temporally preceded increases in social anxiety for the remainder of the interaction; no such effect was found in the small-talk conversation. Our findings provide insight into the association between experiential avoidance on social anxiety in laboratory and naturalistic settings, and demonstrate that the effect of EA depends upon level of social threat and opportunity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
Book
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
In the present set of studies we examined whether expectancies about emotion regulation strategies moderate the relationship between experiential avoidance (EA) and negative emotional experiences. In Study 1, college students (N = 334) completed self-report measures assessing EA, expectancies about emotion regulation strategies, and psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety, and stress). In Study 2, college students (N = 97) completed (a) self-report measures assessing pre-task state negative affect, EA, and expectancies about emotion regulation strategies; (b) either an emotionally neutral or emotionally negative task; and (c) a self-report measure of post-task state negative affect. Consistent with predictions, pessimistic expectancies about emotion regulation strategies (reflecting perceptions about having a lack of emotion regulation abilities) potentiated the relationship between EA and negative emotional reactions in both studies. In Study 2, this potentiating effect was observed in response to the emotionally negative, but not emotionally neutral, task. Conceptual and therapeutic implications are discussed.
Article
The construct of "meaning in life" (MiL) has raised the interest of clinicians working in psycho-oncology and end-of-life care. It has become a topic of scientific investigation where diverse assessment approaches have been applied. Aims: We present a comprehensive systematic review of existing MiL assessment instruments. Electronic searches of articles published in English peer-reviewed journals were performed in Psycinfo, Medline, Embase and Cinahl. Instruments are appraised with regard to ten measurement properties. In total, 59 nomothetic and idiographic MiL instruments were identified. Most instruments were developed in North America and meet basic psychometric criteria. They assess presence of and search for MiL, crisis and sources of MiL, meaning making, meaningful activity, MiL in the context of illness, breadth, depth, and other structural indicators. These aspects are largely consistent with existing MiL definitions. Nine out of 59 instruments included cancer populations in test development. This overview of available instruments underscores the complexity of the construct and might assist researchers to select an appropriate instrument for their research needs. Finally, it points to the need for more integrative theorizing and research on MiL. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
The present research describes the development and psychometric evaluation of a second version of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II), which assesses the construct referred to as, variously, acceptance, experiential avoidance, and psychological inflexibility. Results from 2,816 participants across six samples indicate the satisfactory structure, reliability, and validity of this measure. For example, the mean alpha coefficient is .84 (.78-.88), and the 3- and 12-month test-retest reliability is .81 and .79, respectively. Results indicate that AAQ-II scores concurrently, longitudinally, and incrementally predict a range of outcomes, from mental health to work absence rates, that are consistent with its underlying theory. The AAQ-II also demonstrates appropriate discriminant validity. The AAQ-II appears to measure the same concept as the AAQ-I (r=.97) but with better psychometric consistency.
Article
We examined the relationships between six emotion-regulation strategies (acceptance, avoidance, problem solving, reappraisal, rumination, and suppression) and symptoms of four psychopathologies (anxiety, depression, eating, and substance-related disorders). We combined 241 effect sizes from 114 studies that examined the relationships between dispositional emotion regulation and psychopathology. We focused on dispositional emotion regulation in order to assess patterns of responding to emotion over time. First, we examined the relationship between each regulatory strategy and psychopathology across the four disorders. We found a large effect size for rumination, medium to large for avoidance, problem solving, and suppression, and small to medium for reappraisal and acceptance. These results are surprising, given the prominence of reappraisal and acceptance in treatment models, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance-based treatments, respectively. Second, we examined the relationship between each regulatory strategy and each of the four psychopathology groups. We found that internalizing disorders were more consistently associated with regulatory strategies than externalizing disorders. Lastly, many of our analyses showed that whether the sample came from a clinical or normative population significantly moderated the relationships. This finding underscores the importance of adopting a multi-sample approach to the study of psychopathology.
Article
Extending previous work, we conducted two studies concerning the toxic influences of experiential avoidance (EA) as a core mechanism in the development and maintenance of psychological distress, and disruption of pleasant, engaging, and spontaneous activity. Of particular interest was whether EA accounted for relationships between coping and emotion regulation strategies on anxiety-related pathology (Study 1) and psychological distress and hedonic functioning over the course of a 21-day monitoring period (Study 2). In Study 1, EA mediated the effects of maladaptive coping, emotional responses styles, and uncontrollability on anxiety-related distress (e.g., anxiety sensitivity, trait anxiety, suffocation fears, and body sensation fears). In Study 2, EA completely mediated the effects of two emotion regulation strategies (i.e., suppression and reappraisal) on daily negative and positive experiences and was associated with diminished daily positive affective experiences and healthy life appraisals, diminished frequency of positive events and more frequent negative life events, and greater negative affective experiences. The present data show that cognitive reappraisal, a primary process of traditional cognitive-behavior therapy, was much less predictive of the quality of psychological experiences and events in everyday life compared with EA. Further consideration of experiential avoidance as a generalized diathesis and toxic process will be useful in improving our understanding of the etiology, phenomenology, and treatment of anxiety conditions, general human suffering, and disruptions in hedonic capacity.
Article
The construct of experiential avoidance has become more frequently used by clinical researchers. Experiential avoidance involves the unwillingness to remain in contact with private experiences such as painful thoughts and emotions and is often proposed to be critical to the development and maintenance of psychopathology. This review summarizes the empirical studies on experiential avoidance as a factor in the etiology of maladaptive behavior and its relationship to specific diagnostic categories. Although some of the current literature suggests that experiential avoidance may be implicated in various forms of psychopathology, a fundamental limitation of this research is the lack of theoretical integration and refinement with regard to operationalizing and assessing experiential avoidance. Future studies should attempt to understand the core processes involved in experiential avoidance better, and then clearly operationalize the construct and determine its incremental validity relative to other constructs.
ACT made simple : An easy-to-read primer on acceptance and commitment therapy
  • R Harris
Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple : An easy-to-read primer on acceptance and commitment therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Intervention for promoting meaning in life in adolescents: Evaluation of the process and results
  • J M O D Luz
  • S G Murta
  • T A A D Aquino
Luz, J. M. O. D., Murta, S. G., & Aquino, T. A. A. D. (2017). Intervention for promoting meaning in life in adolescents: Evaluation of the process and results. Trends in Psychology, 25, 1795-1811. https://doi.org/10.9788/TP2017.4-14Pt.
  • K C Kelso
K.C. Kelso, et al. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 16 (2020) 192-198