Date of Graduation

Summer 2012


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

David Lutz


ACT, values, behavior change, expressive writing, psychological distress

Subject Categories



Previous research has shown that writing about emotional experiences leads to significant reductions in psychological distress (Hughes, Uhlmann, & Pennebaker, 1994; Pennebaker & Beall, 1986). Although the paradigm proposed by Pennebaker (1997) has been used to explore many variation on the therapeutic benefits of expressive writing there has not as of yet been a controlled experiment that utilized this paradigm in combinations with the underlying theory of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). The current project sought to explore the effects of expressive writing on personal values, a key component of ACT. A large pool of participants (n = 545) attended a pre-screening session during which they were given the Valued Living Questionnaire (VLQ), which assesses values importance and behavioral concordance. The participants who reported being highly concordant and highly discordant were contacted and asked to complete the study (n = 53). Participants in each group were asked to meet for four sessions over a two to four week period to conduct the writing portion of the study. The goal of this project was to gain information on the effect of expressive writing on personal values and to explore how this relates to individual differences in behavior change, mood and distress. In conclusion, scores on the VLQ did decrease as expected, however the results were not statistically significant. Further research with a larger sample size could potentially identify significant findings.


© Charles Lee Gilpin

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