Rebecca Michel, University of Rhode Island


Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent of the mental health disorders. A common method used in efforts to relieve anxiety is experiential avoidance, which is the avoidance of distress by any physical or mental means. Contrary to the belief that experiential avoidance is helpful, studies have instead demonstrated engaging in experiential avoidance worsens anxiety. Academic self-efficacy (an individual’s belief in their own scholastic capabilities) has also been associated with anxiety. Low academic self-efficacy has been shown to increase anxiety, especially with college students. While there are similarities between experiential avoidance and self-efficacy, little research has been reported on this topic. Studies have not yet explored the relationship between experiential avoidance, anxiety, and academic self-efficacy. The current study used descriptive analyses to explore the relationship among these variables. This study also hypothesized that increased experiential avoidance is a significant predictor of higher anxiety in both a full sample of participants and a subsample of participants with moderate to high anxiety. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that academic self-efficacy will moderate the relationship between experiential avoidance and anxiety in both the full and partial sample of participants. Data was collected from college students at the University of Rhode Island. An exploratory analysis revealed that experiential avoidance was positively correlated with anxiety and self-efficacy was negatively correlated with both experiential avoidance and anxiety. A linear regression analysis revealed experiential avoidance as a significant predictor of anxiety in both the full sample and partial sample of participants. Finally, a moderation analysis revealed that self-efficacy did not influence the relationship between experiential avoidance and anxiety in both the full and partial participant sample. Limitations of the current study as well as future directions were discussed.