Due to the universal nature of stress, and its impact on physical health, it is important to understand how it is related to other psychological variables. The current study was undertaken in order to investigate whether an individual's cardiovascular reactivity to stress is impacted by their level of experiential avoidance, as measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II). Individuals who are experientially avoidant are more likely to attempt to escape or prevent certain experiences and make effort to change them or avoid the contexts in which they occur. Previous research has indicated that experiential avoidance is related to some measures of physiological stress. One hundred twenty-eight college students (ages 18-29) were administered a questionnaire that included measures of general stress, experiential avoidance, and depression. After completing the questionnaire, a baseline reading of cardiovascular activity was taken. After that baseline reading, research assistants administered the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), a series of tasks designed to induce physiological stress that consists of an anticipation period, a speech, and a math task. Measurements of cardiovascular activity were taken throughout administration. It was hypothesized that increased experiential avoidance would predict higher blood pressure and heart rate both before engaging in the stress task. It was also hypothesized that increased experiential avoidance would predict higher cardiovascular reactivity during administration of the TSST. As was expected, higher experiential avoidance predicted higher baseline heart rate. This finding adds to the body of research that supports the connection between psychological constructs and physiological reactivity. However, experiential avoidance did not significantly predict baseline blood pressure or any measures of physiological reactivity during the TSST.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





experiential avoidance, acceptance, stress, cardiovascular reactivity



Included in

Psychology Commons