Thesis Title

Behavioral Congruence With Personal Values as a Predictor of Undergraduate Distress

Date of Graduation

Spring 2007


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Ann Rost


personal values, acceptance and commitment therapy, models of psychopathology, theory testing, structural equation modeling

Subject Categories



Recent research has demonstrated that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a potentially efficacious treatment for psychological disorders. However, the empirical studies conducted have not evaluated the bold theoretical claims made by ACT theorists regarding the origins of psychopathology in behavioral incongruence with personal values. The current study was undertaken with the intention of beginning the research necessary to evaluate this theoretical position. It was hypothesized that undergraduate students who demonstrated greater discrepancy between their behavior and stated personal values would also experience more psychological distress. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was employed to test this hypothesis in order to allow psychological distress to be measured by multiple instruments. The results of the statistical analysis indicate that personal values do, in fact, account for a significant portion of the variance in psychological distress (12%), however, the conceptualization of values is critical to finding this effect. The use of a simple values importance score accounts for only 2% of the variance in distress, and is correlated with social desirability (r=.30). Therefore, it is necessary to calculate a discrepancy score between values importance and valued behavior to gain a true measure of distress. This conceptualization allows for a measure free from social desirability (r=-.08).


© Christopher C. Cushing