The Unique Contributions of Distinct Experiential Avoidance Domains to Severity and Functionality of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Kate H. Bentley, Shannon Sauer-Zavala, Julianne Wilner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study explored the associations between domains of experiential avoidance and severity and functions of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). Methods: Undergraduates reporting a history of repeated engagement in NSSI (N = 150) completed measures of experiential avoidance, psychopathology, and self-injury. Results: Procrastination, a specific domain of experiential avoidance, was related to the severity of self-injurious behavior; however, procrastination did not account for significant incremental variance in the NSSI severity over and above the contributions of depression and anxiety. Correlational and hierarchical regression analyses indicated that procrastination and repression/denial domains of experiential avoidance were associated with automatic negative and automatic positive reinforcement functions of NSSI (respectively) and accounted for significant incremental variance after controlling for depressive and anxiety symptoms. Both repression/denial and distress aversion also explained a significant proportion of variance in engagement in NSSI for interpersonal reasons when controlling for the contributions of depression and anxiety. Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary support for the notion that unique relationships exist among distinct forms of experiential avoidance and both severity and functions of NSSI. Clinical and theoretical implications for these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-57
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 SAGE Publications Ltd.


  • experiential avoidance
  • four-function model
  • functional analysis
  • nonsuicidal self-injury
  • self-injurious behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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