Measuring Psychological Flexibility: Preliminary Data on the Psychometric Properties of the Romanian Version of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (Aaq-Ii)

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Abstract

The Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II) is an instrument designed to assess individual differences in psychological flexibility, as conceptualized within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The main purpose of the present study was to provide preliminary data on the psychometric properties and factor structure of the Romanian AAQ-II. Internal consistency for the Romanian version of the AAQ-II was found to be adequate. Correlational analyses with theoretically related measures sustained the convergent validity of this questionnaire. Two models were tested via CFA to assess the factorial validity of the Romanian version of the AAQ-II in a young non-clinical adult sample (n=350). Both models were specified as a one-dimensional solution, with the second model implying a correlated errors component between the positively formulated items. Our results seem to support a one-dimensional factor structure, suggesting that the apparent presence of a second factor is primarily due to a method effect (positively worded items). These findings are similar to those reported for the original version of the AAQ-II, and for other validated versions. Overall, our results recommend the Romanian version of the AAQ-II as a valuable tool for Romanian language population-based research on psychological flexibility.

Keywords: Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II), experiential avoidance, psychological flexibility, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, psychometric properties

Introduction

Psychological flexibility is a central concept in the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl & Wilson, 1999) model, one of the so called "third generation" approaches within cognitive-behavioral therapy (Hayes, 2004a). According to Ciarrochi, Bilich and Godsel (2010), psychological flexibility is the construct that captures the overarching ACT model in its most current rendition.

Psychological flexibility is a general behavioral style (Bond & Flaxman, 2006), defined as the ability that allows one either to persist with functional behavioral classes, or to change them, when doing so serves the attainment of his/her valued ends (Hayes, 2004b; Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda & Lillis, 2006). The very purpose of psychological flexibility is to allow individuals to contact, take in, and evaluate their current circumstances, and by doing so, to ensure acting effectively in that situation (Bond, Hayes & Barnes-Holmes, 2006).

Six key processes are thought to represent the defining aspects of psychological flexibility. Two of them (acceptance and defusion) delineate the so called "acceptance and mindfulness skills", two others (values, and committed action) are related to the "commitment and behavior change skills", while the last two of the key processes (contact with the present moment, and self-as-context) contribute to the delineation of both categories of skills (Hayes, 2004b).

Of all six aspects of psychological flexibility, acceptance represents the most widely researched one. It has even become a common practice for researchers to refer to measurements of acceptance and related processes as expressions of psychological flexibility. According to Hayes et al. (2006), acceptance can be defined as a process that involves the active and aware embrace of the private events experienced by an individual, in absence of unnecessary attempts to change the frequency or form of these experiences; it is fostered as a way of increasing action based on the values embraced by the person. Acceptance means to merely notice one's thoughts and feelings (including those felt as painful) as a continuous flow of psychological material; and to observe these private experiences without engaging in attempts to control them (Bond et al., 2006). This attitude is thought to be especially beneficial when attempts to change would cause psychological harm to the individual (Hayes et al. 2006). …