Interrelating Behavioral Measures of Distress Tolerance with Self-Reported Experiential Avoidance

J Ration Emot Cogn Behav Ther. 2011 Mar 1;29(1):53-63. doi: 10.1007/s10942-011-0127-3.


Experiential avoidance and distress intolerance play a central role in novel behavior therapies, yet they appear to overlap considerably the REBT concept of low frustration tolerance. Using baseline data from 100 adult cigarette smokers enrolled in a clinical trial of smoking cessation therapies, the present study evaluated the convergent validity of common questionnaire measures of experiential avoidance (Acceptance and Action Questionnaire; AAQ; Hayes et al. 2004, and Avoidance and Inflexibility Scale: AIS; Gifford et al. 2004) and behavioral measures of distress tolerance (computerized Mirror Tracing Persistence Task: MTPT-C: Strong et al. 2003; computerized Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task; PASAT-C; Lejuez et al. 2003). The distress tolerance measures correlated significantly (r = .29) with one another. However, the questionnaire measures of experiential avoidance did not correlate with each other, nor with the behavioral measures. Further research is needed on the validity of measuring experiential avoidance by self-report and of the overlap versus distinctiveness of seemingly similar constructs such as experiential avoidance, distress tolerance, and frustration tolerance.