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TEMPLATE DESIGN © 2008 www.PosterPresentation s.com Spirituality and Experiential Avoidance in Social Anxiety Benjamin Ramos, Elizabeth Mejia-Muñoz, Michael Namekata, & Jennifer Gregg, Ph.D. San José State University Spirituality is an individualized approach compared to religiosity, which is the following or practice of certain beliefs (Leigh, Bowen, & Marlatt, 2005) and has been shown to help individuals cope with stress or anxiety (Koening, 2009). Spirituality is related to: physical illness psychological disorders anxiety (George, Larson, Koenig, & Mccullough, 2000). Evidence strongly supports the correlation between experiential avoidance and social anxiety. As individuals attempt to suppress feelings of distress, anxiety, and bodily functions, the severity of social anxiety symptoms increases (Kashdan, Barrios, Forsyth, & Steger, 2005; Kashdan & Steger, 2006). When individuals engage in experiential avoidance they are more likely to experience negative emotions creating a sense of diminished well-being (Campbell-Sills, Barlow, Brown, & Hofmann, 2006). An individual’s personal perspective, particularly the relations involving ME/NOT ME, HERE/THERE, and NOW/THEN can create a context of spiritual experience, and may help in noticing experiences not as content (Hayes, 1984). Background Current Study Anxious Thoughts Experiential Avoidance Extrinsic Spirituality The present study seeks to investigate the relationship of spirituality as a moderator between experiential avoidance and social anxiety. Hypothesis Method Participants N = 161 Undergraduates (59.6% female) (Mean age = 19.75) The participants were ethically diverse and identified themselves most commonly as: Asian/Pacific Islander (37.9%), Caucasian (27.3%), Hispanic (20.5%), African American (8.7%), Native American (3.7%), and Sub-continental Asian (1.9%). Procedure College students were recruited via the San José State University SONA experiment management system. A cross sectional web-based survey was administered. Measures Experiential Avoidance – Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II): A 7-item, Likert-scale measure for experiential avoidance. Included in the scale are the need to control thoughts and emotions, avoidance of private experiences, and immobility in taking action. Extrinsic Spirituality – Values Questionnaire: A 9-item subscale of the Values Questionnaire focused on Values related to spirituality, and items related to extrinsic spirituality. Social Anxiety – Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS): measures the severity of social anxiety symptoms by assessing participants’ fear of specific social interactions and their tendency to avoid those situations. Sample and Data Analysis We conducted a series of analyses to explore differences in mean levels of severity of social anxiety symptoms, experiential avoidance, and extrinsic personal values related to spirituality. As social anxiety is already significantly correlated with experiential avoidance, prior to our analyses, the independent variables were centered to reduce multicollinearity. We then used a hierarchical, multivariable linear regression to evaluate for a moderator effect. In order to determine if extrinsic spirituality moderated the relationship between experiential avoidance and social anxiety, we followed the steps of moderation by Baron & Kenny (1986): Step 1: Variables were centered to reduce multicollinearity. Step 2: Multiplied IV (AAQ) x Moderator (VQ) Step 3: Used hierarchical regression of IV, followed by Moderator and product of IV x Moderator Results A regression was run on social anxiety in which extrinsic spirituality and experiential avoidance (both mean centered) were the independent variables. In this analysis extrinsic spirituality x experiential avoidance were not related to social anxiety, β = -.096, p =.190. These results failed to support our hypothesis. The results are reported in Table 1. Extrinsic Spirituality AAQ LSAS β =.445 p <.000 β = -.096 p =.190 Extrinsic Spirituality is not a significant moderator. Table 1 Regression analyses predicting social anxiety β Std. Error t p value AAQ 1.30.2096.214.000 Extrinsic Spirituality.323.638.507.613 AAQ x Extrinsic -.113.086-1.318.190 AAQ LSAS Although extrinsic spirituality did not moderate the relationship between experiential avoidance and anxiety, gender was a moderator in post hoc analyses. To examine whether males and females differed in their level of extrinsic spirituality, a between groups ANOVA was conducted. Results showed a significant difference in extrinsic spirituality between males. (M = 8.075, SD = 2.00) and females (M = 7.64, SD = 2.52), F(1, 129) = 5.205, p =.024. Discussion To our knowledge, this was the first study to examine extrinsic spirituality values as a moderator between experiential avoidance and social anxiety. An examination of the data found no significant moderation effect for this variable. Further analysis of the data revealed that males were found to rate themselves as significantly more avoidant than females. This may be related to the significantly higher levels of self-reported extrinsic- values found in this study’s male sample. Future research is needed to understand the role of spiritual values in mindfulness interventions. Spirituality values may have positive outcomes in treatment, because it may help with a better sense of well-being. Limitations The current study examined extrinsic spirituality values using a measure designed to examine values in general; better measures may have detected more of a difference. The present study did not focus on intrinsic spirituality. The participants in this study were college-aged students, which may affect our ability to generalize the results. References Baron, R. M. & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator- mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Concept, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173-1182. Campbell-Sills, L., Barlow, D. H., Brown, T. A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2006). Acceptability and suppression of negative emotion in anxiety and mood disorders. Emotion, 6 (4), 587-595. George, L. K., Larson, D. B., Koenig, H. G., & McCullough, M. E. (2000). Spirituality and health: What we know, what we need to know. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19 (1), 102-116. Hayes, S. C. (1984). Making sense of spirituality. Behaviorism, 12, 99-110. Kashdan, T. B., & Steger, M. F. (2006). Expanding the topography of social anxiety an experience-sampling assessment of positive emotions, positive events, and emotion suppression. Psychological Science, 17 (2), 120-128. Koenig, H. G. (2009). Research on religion, spirituality, and mental health: A review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54 (5), 283-291. Leigh, J., Bowen, S., & Marlatt, G. A. (2005). Spirituality, mindfulness and substance abuse. Addictive Behaviors, 30 (7), 1335-1341. For More Information For more information about this study, please contact: Benjamin Ramos firstname.lastname@example.org Jennifer Gregg, Ph.D. email@example.com Spirituality will serve as a moderator between experiential avoidance and social anxiety; individuals who are high in spirituality will be less socially anxious, even if they have high rates of experiential avoidance. Comic by: Natalie Dee (2008)
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