Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Psychological flexibility is conceptualized as contact with the present moment and the ability to persist or change one’s behavior to achieve valued ends. The opposite of this process is known as psychological inflexibility, which is posited to lead to the development and maintenance of various psychological disorders. There are 6 components underlying psychological inflexibility—these are cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, fixating on the past or future, self-conceptualization, lacking contact with values, and inaction toward valued ends, as well as 6 components underlying psychological flexibility (i.e., defusion, acceptance, present moment awareness, self-as-context, contact with values, and committed action). Psychological inflexibility may be implicated in risk-taking behaviors (e.g., substance use, sexual risk behaviors, binge eating); however, the nature of the relationship between these two constructs has not been explicitly examined. The proposed study aimed to understand how the various components underlying psychological flexibility and inflexibility predict various types and domains of risk-taking behaviors and beliefs. Participants completed various self-report measures on each psychological flexibility/inflexibility component, as well as measures assessing their perceptions of and engagement in risk-taking behaviors. Responses to these measures were analyzed via path analyses. Each of the models tested in this study demonstrated poor model fit, however several interesting findings are noted. In particular, many of the individual psychological flexibility and inflexibility components significantly predicted self-harming behavior. Implications, future directions, and limitations are discussed.



Committee Chair

Long, Anna