Putting values into words: An examination of the text characteristics of values articulation

Aviva M. Katz, Stephanie J. Czech, Susan M. Orsillo

Acceptance-based behavioral therapies (ABBTs) are aimed at helping clients cultivate an accepting stance towards their internal experiences and encouraging values articulation and action. A sizeable experimental literature documents the specific utility of increasing acceptance (e.g., Eifert and Hefner, 2003 and Levitt et al., 2004), but less is known about the values component of these therapies. The present exploratory study preliminarily investigated the linguistic text characteristics of values articulation narratives, the potential impact of individual difference variables on values writing text characteristics, and the relationship between text characteristics and anticipatory anxiety in preparation for a stressful laboratory challenge in a sample of 63 undergraduates. Values writing was characterized by expression of positive emotion and insight and both of these text characteristics were negatively associated with anticipatory anxiety. Both self-reported acceptance and high self-esteem were negatively associated with the expression of anxiety in values narratives. Treatment and research implications are discussed.

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