Direct and indirect associations between experiential avoidance and reduced delay of gratification

James I. Gerhart, Nicole M. Heath, Carey Fitzgerald, Michael Hoerger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The ability to delay gratification and wait for larger long-term rewards is crucial for maximizing outcomes in commonly valued areas of living such as career, health, and relationships. Past research suggests that emotional distress impairs this ability to delay gratification. Research also indicates that persons who exhibit higher levels of experiential avoidance, the tendency to negatively evaluate and avoid emotion and cognition, tend to report higher levels of distress. There is limited research to date on the direct or indirect relationships between experiential avoidance and delay of gratification. The current study was designed to assess these relationships in order to integrate findings from the literature on experiential avoidance and delay of gratification. Two hundred and two university students provided ratings of their experiential avoidance, depression, anger, and delay of gratification. Results indicated these variables were moderately and significantly correlated. Path analysis suggested that experiential avoidance has a direct relationship with delay of gratification, and an indirect relationship through higher depression and anger. These findings suggest that acceptance-based behavior therapies that reduce experiential avoidance and distress may potentially enhance delay of gratification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Contextual Behavioral Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2013


  • Anger
  • Delay of gratification
  • Depression
  • Experiential avoidance


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