The Drexel defusion scale: A new measure of experiential distancing

Volume 1, Issues 1–2, 10 December 2012, Pages 55–65

Evan M. Forman
James D. Herbert
Adrienne S. Juarascio
Peter D. Yeomans
John A. Zebell
Elizabeth M. Goetter
Ethan Moitra

Defusion, the ability to achieve psychological distance from internal experiences such as thoughts and feelings, is considered to be a key mechanism of cognitive behavior therapy and is particularly emphasized in certain acceptance-based behavior therapies like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Unlike other treatment components such as cognitive restructuring, however, defusion has been less well studied as a potential mediator of change. One reason for this lack of attention is the absence of a well-validated measure of defusion. Current measures confound defusion with other related, yet distinct, constructs such as psychological acceptance or mindful awareness. One challenge in measuring defusion is that the meaning of the construct is not readily apparent to respondents. The current study reports on a new measure, the Drexel defusion scale (DDS), by providing information about its development, reliability, and validity. Results from several samples indicate that the measure is unidimensional, with good internal consistency. The DDS is highly correlated with measures of acceptance and decentering, suggesting high convergent validity. Higher scores on the DDS are also associated with less psychopathology and a higher quality of life, even after controlling for measures of similar constructs, indicating that the DDS provides incremental validity beyond existing measures. Additionally, among a treatment-seeking sample, increases in the DDS were associated with improvements in psychological functioning, for both those receiving ACT and CT treatment. The DDS appears to be a reliable and valid measure of defusion.

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