Compulsivity is recognized as a transdiagnostic phenotype, underlying a variety of addictive and obsessive–compulsive behaviors. However, current understanding of how it should be operationalized and the processes contributing to its development and maintenance is limited. The present study investigated if there was a relationship between the affective process Experiential Avoidance (EA), an unwillingness to tolerate negative internal experiences, and the frequency and severity of transdiagnostic compulsive behaviors. A large sample of adults (N = 469) completed online questionnaires measuring EA, psychological distress and the severity of seven obsessive–compulsive and addiction-related behaviors. Using structural equation modelling, results indicated a one-factor model of compulsivity was superior to the two-factor model (addictive- vs OCD-related behaviors). The effect of EA on compulsivity was fully mediated by psychological distress, which in turn had a strong direct effect on compulsivity. This suggests distress is a key mechanism in explaining why people with high EA are more prone to compulsive behaviors. The final model explained 41% of the variance in compulsivity, underscoring the importance of these constructs as likely risk and maintenance factors for compulsive behavior. Implications for designing effective psychological interventions for compulsivity are discussed.
- Compulsive buying
- Experiential Avoidance
- Obsessive–compulsive disorder