Experiential avoidance and interpersonal problems: A moderated mediation model

Author(s):
James I. Gerhart, Courtney N. Baker, Michael Hoerger, George F. Ronan

Abstract:
This pilot study employed a moderated mediation framework to examine whether negative expectations of interpersonal relationships explained the relationship between experiential avoidance and interpersonal problems. University students (N=159) completed measures of experiential avoidance, negative perceptions and expectations of interpersonal relationships (e.g., hostility, attachment anxiety), and interpersonal problems (e.g., coldness, social avoidance, dominating tendencies, and vindictiveness). Attachment anxiety explained the relationship between experiential avoidance and interpersonal problems involving coldness and social avoidance, with a stronger relationship at high levels of experiential avoidance. In addition, hostility explained the relationship between experiential avoidance and interpersonal problems involving dominant and vindictive tendencies. Moreover, experiential avoidance interacted with attachment anxiety and hostility to predict higher levels of interpersonal problems as evidenced by stronger indirect associations among participants reporting higher levels of experiential avoidance. Results of this pilot study provide a preliminary empirical model that integrates the literatures on experiential avoidance and interpersonal problems.

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