Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Orcutt, Holly K.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Avoidance (Psychology)


The current study utilized an experimental design to investigate the influences of experimentally induced distress from personal and non-personal events in college students reporting high and low levels of experiential avoidance. Researchers have attempted to elicit experientially avoidant responses in laboratory settings with varying success. In fact, the pattern of responses has varied depending on the stimuli used to elicit an experiential avoidance response and the population that is studied. Therefore, the current study examined the role of stimulus relevance in eliciting an affective response by using an emotional imagery paradigm requiring participants to become engaged with the emotional content of a distressing event that has either happened to them (i.e., personal event) or has happened to another participant (i.e., non-personal event). It was hypothesized that the activation of a comprehensive affective response would reveal differential responding between high and low experiential avoidance groups across measurement domains (e.g., self-report and physiological reactivity). Results do not support differential responding between high and low experiential avoidance groups; however, results do support the use of the emotional imagery paradigm for manipulation of personalized stimuli. Limitations, theoretical considerations, clinical utility, and future directions are discussed in detail.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 126-134)


vii, 149 pages




Northern Illinois University

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