RELATING COPING, FEAR OF UNCERTAINTY AND ALEXITHYMIA WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS: THE MEDIATING ROLE OF EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE
Carmen BERROCAL*, Tiziana PENNATO, Olivia BERNINI
University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
The present study tests the mediating role of experiential avoidance (EA; Hayes, Wilson, Gifford, Follette, & Strosahl, 1996) to account for the relations of avoidant coping, fear of uncertainty, and alexithymia with negative psychological outcomes. Participants were 177 adults (51 males and 126 females; mean age = 34.5). Measures of EA (Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, AAQ), avoidant coping (Brief COPE scale), fear of uncertainty (Temperament and Character Inventory), alexithymia (Toronto Alexithymia Scale), and psychological outcomes (Behavior and Symptom Identification Scale) were obtained from standardized, self-administered questionnaires. Regression analyses were performed to test for mediation models. Results show that the effect of avoidant coping and fear of uncertainty on emotional distress and other negative outcomes decreases when controlling avoidance scores, whereas the latter predicts psychological outcomes. Findings suggest that EA may represent a generalized mechanism through which both avoidant coping and fear of uncertainty take on psychological significance. Results did not support, however, the mediating role of EA for explaining the relations between alexithymia and psychological outcomes.
Keywords: experiential avoidance, coping strategies, alexithymia, mediator