Experiential approach as a moderator of the impact of a positive mood induction procedure
The model of human functioning on which acceptance and commitment therapy is based (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006) has recognized how efforts to control negative emotions (i.e., experiential avoidance) may contribute to psychological inflexibility, but has largely overlooked the role that experiential approach in regulating positive affective states might also play in human suffering. The recently developed Experiential Approach Scale (EAS; (Swails, Zettle, Burdsal, & Snyder, 2016) suggests that this aspect of experiential control may be comprised of two independent strategies, Anxious Clinging and Experience Prolonging, that appear to be positively and inversely related to psychological distress and dysfunction, respectively. Anxious Clinging involves attempts to sustain positive affective experiences accompanied by worry or anxiety about losing them, while Experience Prolonging refers to efforts to savor desired mood states for as long as they might last. The degree to which these two aspects of experiential approach moderate positive affect in predictable ways was investigated in the laboratory with a mood induction procedure. Contrary to hypotheses, elevations in positive mood induced by viewing a film and associated reactions to it did not significantly vary as a function of the EAS score levels of college student participants (N = 138). Possible reasons for the overall findings and their implications for further assessment and investigations of experiential approach as a positive emotion regulation strategy are discussed.