The relationship between psychological flexibility, early maladaptive schemas, perceived parenting and psychopathology


Timothy D. Fischer, Matthew F. Smout, & Paul H. Delfabbro



Clinicians have begun to integrate Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Schema Therapy (ST) but there has been no empirical investigation into the relationship between their theoretical processes.


This study sought to explore the relationships between psychological flexibility, perceived parent behavior, early maladaptive schemas and psychopathology in a non-clinical undergraduate sample (N=117).


Cross-sectional, correlational. Using a series of structural equation models, psychological flexibility, measured as a latent variable (indicators: Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II), Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire (CFQ), Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Valuing Questionnaire (VQ)) was tested as both a mediator, and a moderator of the effect of Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMS, indicator: Young Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-3S)) on psychopathology (indicator: Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)), and of the effects of perceived parent behavior (indicator: Young Parenting Inventory (YPI)) on EMS.


Psychological flexibility fully mediated the effect of EMS on psychopathology; EMS did not mediate the effect of psychological flexibility on psychopathology. Psychological flexibility also fully mediated the effect of parenting behavior on EMS, however a model where EMS mediated the effect of parenting behavior on psychological flexibility was equally viable. Simple slopes analysis suggested EMS moderated the effect of psychological flexibility on psychopathology. Parent behavior was not a significant predictor of EMS when measured with psychological flexibility. These results warrant exploration in clinical samples and using longitudinal designs.

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