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The role of experiential avoidance in the relationship between family conflict and depression among early adolescents


Anthony Biglan, Jeff M. Gau, Laura Backen Jones, Erika Hinds, Julie C. Rusby, Christine Cody & Jeffrey Sprague


Experiential avoidance (EA) consists of efforts to control or avoid unwanted emotions, upsetting memories, troubling thoughts, or physical pain and the contexts that occasion them, even when doing so created problems over the long run. While substantial evidence finds EA to be a risk factor for diverse psychological problems, most of that evidence comes from research with adults. This paper presents longitudinal findings from a study of adolescents that examined the relationships between EA, family conflict and depression. We obtained data from students in grades 6, 7, and 8 (81.8% white, with Hispanic students the largest group of minority participants - 8.8%). The analysis included latent growth models of family conflict, adolescent EA, and adolescent depression: all showed acceptable fit; mean intercepts and slopes (with their respective variances) were significant. The results suggest that EA is associated with depression and is more likely in families with high conflict. Female adolescents had higher EA and were differentially affected by family conflict.

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