Academic journal article Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies

Philosophical versus Psychological Unconditional Acceptance: Implications for Constructing the Unconditional Acceptance Questionnaire

Academic journal article Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies

Philosophical versus Psychological Unconditional Acceptance: Implications for Constructing the Unconditional Acceptance Questionnaire

Article excerpt


Unconditional acceptance (i.e., of self, others, and/or life) represents the rational counterpart of the irrational belief of global evaluation, a key construct of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). As relating the "self", the concept of self-esteem can refer to global self-esteem (i.e., global evaluation of the self-like "I am a worthless person.") and/or to specific self-esteem relating specific domain evaluation of the self (e.g., "I am a bad mother."). In this study, we propose a new delineation between philosophical unconditional acceptance and psychological unconditional acceptance. While philosophical self-acceptance represents a counterpart to global self-esteem, psychological self-acceptance represents the rational variant of specific self-esteem. However, up to now this distinction has not been made explicit and studied accordingly. We addressed this problem by reporting the initial development and psychometric properties of the Unconditional Acceptance Questionnaire (UAQ), a scale measuring unconditional acceptance of the self, others, and life and differentiating between psychological acceptance and philosophical acceptance. The UAQ emerged as a valid candidate for measuring unconditional acceptance as a rational secondary appraisal mechanism. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed along with suggestions for future studies to develop and test the new proposed constructs and the new questionnaire.

Keywords: self, unconditional acceptance, mental health, rational emotive behavior therapy, questionnaire, philosophical unconditional acceptance, psychological unconditional acceptance


The concept of "self" generally refers to a collection of explicit knowledge concerning one's identity, as something separate from other selves and/or the environment. It is a multi-dimensional concept, strongly related to mental health and psychological disorders (e.g., Costa & McCrae, 1996). The following (sub) concepts are typically related to the more general concept of "self": self-esteem, which refers to the general belief of self-worth and/or self- value; self-efficacy, which refers to the belief in one's capacity to perform various tasks; self-confidence referring to beliefs in one's personal worth and probability to succeed; and self-concept referring to the organized structure of knowledge about one's self (see for details Bandura, 1997; Franken, 1994; Purkey, 1988).

Thus, no matter how we conceptualize the self, it often involves an evaluative/rating component. This evaluative-rating component of the self is a key part of the self-esteem (Rosenberg, Schooler, Schoenbach, & Rosenberg, 1995). The concept of self-esteem represents a multidimensional construct, one of the most investigated in the mental health field. Indeed, it can refer to global self- esteem (i.e., global evaluation of the self like "I am a worthless person.") - more related to mental health - and/or specific self-esteem related to domain-specific evaluation of the self (e.g., "I am a bad mother.") - more related to behaviors (Rosenberg et al., 1995). A well-known measure of global self-esteem is Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale, although different measures of specific self-esteem also exist (see Rosenberg, 1965; Rosenberg et al., 1995).

If the evaluation of the self, whether it is in the form of global self-esteem and/or specific self-esteem, falls in the low range (e.g., low self-esteem), it is likely we will experience various psychological problems (see Chamberlain & Haaga, 2001; 2001a; Rosenberg et al., 1995). These findings apparently support the development of programs aiming to enhance various self-related components (e.g., see the case for self-esteem enhancement programs in Dawes, 1994). However, a high level of self-esteem is also associated with various psychological problems (e.g., mania, perfectionism, vulnerability to criticisms, high aggressiveness etc.) and/or could even generate cognitive vulnerability (see Chamberlain & Haaga, 2001; 2001a; Dawes, 1994; Ellis, 1994). …

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