The Role of Experiential Avoidance in Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder Traits

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Obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is one of the most prevalent personality disorders, yet it remains an understudied phenomenon. Experiential avoidance (EA) has been investigated as a factor relevant in many forms of psychopathology, including borderline personality disorder. To date however, no study has yet investigated whether EA might also be relevant to OCPD. We administered a measure of EA and a multidimensional OCPD measure (assessing 5 OCPD trait dimensions and overall severity) to a large community sample (N = 571) as well as a group of individuals with self-identified OCPD features (N = 53). Results revealed that the OCPD group experienced heightened EA relative to the unscreened community sample, even controlling for group differences in distress symptoms. Correlational analyses showed significant relationships between EA and all 5 OCPD trait dimensions and overall severity. Moreover, EA accounted for OCPD traits and severity after controlling for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Implications for the role of EA in OCPD, including treatment implications, are discussed.

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