International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 10 Num. 3 - October 2010


The Role of Experiential Avoidance in the Performance on a High Cognitive Demand Task

Volume 10 Num. 3 - October 2010 - Pages 475-488


Juan C. L?pez , Francisco J. Ruiz , Jonas Feder , Adri?n Barbero Rubio, , Joaqu?n J. Su?rez Aguirre , Jos? A. Rodr?guez , Carmen Luciano


The aim of the study is to analyze the relation between experiential avoidance and the performance on a working-memory task. In Phase 1, 24 participants were selected according to high and low scores in the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II), an experiential avoidance measure. Participants then responded to the White Bear Suppression Inventory (WBSI), the accepting without judgment scale of the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) and the problem solving and cognitive reappraisal scales of the Coping Strategies Inventory (CSI). In Phase 2, participants followed this sequence: (a) viewed a film with neutral content (neutral film), (b) responded to a mood inventory, (c) were exposed to a working-memory task in which they had to press the space bar when recalling something about the film (thought intrusions) and, finally, (d) reported their level of concentration on the task and the perceived interference of having viewed the film. Phase 3 was identical except that a new film with highly emotional content (discomforting film) was used. Results showed that experiential avoidance and accepting without judgment scores showed the highest correlations with the experimental variables. High AAQ-II participants showed a higher level of negative emotions after viewing both films. After viewing the discomforting film, these participants showed a higher number of thought intrusions, a higher level of interference of the film and a lower level of concentration on the task. High AAQ-II participants did not improve their performance on the task, however, low AAQ-II participants did. The mediational analysis revealed that experiential avoidance scores had an effect over the working-memory task through its effect over participants? informed level of concentration. Results are discussed highlighting the role of experiential avoidance in the performance on high cognitive demand tasks while participants are experiencing discomfort.

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