The Role of Acceptance in Coping with Daily Hassles
Acceptance-based therapies are increasingly being used to treat the psychopathology caused by experiential avoidance. Experiential avoidance is the attempt of an individual to escape from negative internal events. Although experiential avoidance is arguably useful in short-term coping, long-term use of experiential avoidance can cause the development of psychopathology according to recent research literature. The appropriate intervention for such psychopathologies is the paradoxical practice of experiential acceptance. Acceptance is paradoxical because it suggests that individuals embrace events that they do not wish to experience. Although acceptance has been studied in relation to treating psychopathology it has been less well studied in relationship to the development and maintenance of general psychological well-being. This cross-sectional study examined the role of acceptance between daily hassles and psychological well-being. Previous research has shown that an increased frequency of daily hassles leads to decreased general psychological well-being. It was hypothesized in this study that acceptance would moderate the negative impact of daily hassles on psychological well-being. Subjects (n = 181) were recruited from three different lay-spiritual practice groups and one non-spiritual group that were expected to have greater or lesser levels of acceptance. It was hypothesized that the group means of acceptance would be higher in the acceptance-based groups. It was also hypothesized that acceptance would moderate the relationship between daily hassles and psychological well-being. Results only partially confirmed the hypotheses. Acceptance means were only higher in one of the acceptance-based groups. Additionally, Backward Stepwise Regression and the Sobel Test statistic revealed that acceptance served as a mediator (p < .001) rather than a moderator in this study. The implications of these results are discussed. Experiential acceptance may play a role in the retrospective reconstruction of the frequency of daily hassles in the past month, and allow for individuals to redefine these events in a way that led to greater psychological well-being. In particular a theoretical connection is developed with meaning-focused coping from the stress and coping literature of Lazarus and Folkman. This study also found that a demographic variable, the number of people in the household, was also a predictor of psychological well-being and a new theoretical construct, dyadic acceptance, is briefly considered.