Keywords

Experiential avoidance, overprotection, parenting, psychophysiology, overcontrol, intrusiveness, skin conductance

Abstract

The current study examined experiential avoidance (EA) as an explanation for parental overprotectiveness, a behavior often found among parents of anxious children. EA parenting theory posits that parents engage in overprotective behaviors in order to reduce their own anxiety. In order to test the theory, mothers’ electrodermal activity (EDA) and blindly-coded overprotective behaviors were examined when a child with SAD was engaged in a reading performance task. In line with EA theory, it was hypothesized that EDA levels would increase before an overprotective behavior (OB) occurred and decrease afterwards as a result of decrease in anxiety. The sample consisted of mothers with a child diagnosed with SAD (n=5) and mothers with a child with no diagnoses (n=5). Each mother-child dyad participated in an ABAB design protocol consisting of a baseline period, two 10-minute reading tasks, and a recovery period between the two tasks. Although mothers of both groups displayed OBs, mothers of children with SAD displayed OBs more often. In addition, mothers of children with SAD displayed more promotion of avoidance while mothers of normal control children displayed higher frequencies of control over the reading task. The EDA activity that surrounded the first occurrence of any coded OB was examined. Contrary to the hypothesis, all mothers (regardless of child’s anxiety status) displayed similar trends in their EDA data, with levels increasing but then decreasing shortly before an OB behavior occurred, rather than afterwards. However, one mother with an elevated social anxiety score revealed an EDA pattern similar to what was hypothesized. Possible explanations for these alternate findings are discussed and include a multidisciplinary conceptualization. The study’s findings hold theoretical and practical implications, particularly for parent training in the treatment of childhood anxiety disorders. Limitations such as small sample size and directions for future research are discussed.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2013

Semester

Summer

Advisor

Beidel, Deborah

Degree

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Program

Psychology Clinical

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0004902

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0004902

Language

English

Release Date

August 2018

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)

Subjects

Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

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