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Behav Res Ther. 2010 Sep;48(9):921-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2010.05.025. Epub 2010 Jun 1.

Let it be: Accepting negative emotional experiences predicts decreased negative affect and depressive symptoms.

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Department of Psychology, University of Denver, CO 80208, USA.


The present studies examined whether a tendency to accept negative emotional experiences buffers individuals from experiencing elevated negative affect during negative emotional situations (Study 1) and from developing depressive symptoms in the face of life stress (Study 2). Both studies examined female samples. This research expands on existing acceptance research in four ways. First, it examined whether acceptance has beneficial correlates when it matters most: in emotionally taxing (versus more neutral) contexts. Second, in Study 2 a prospective design was used in which acceptance was measured before stress was encountered and before outcomes were measured. Third, depressive symptoms (rather than general functioning or trauma symptoms) were examined as a particularly relevant outcome in the context of stress. Fourth, to enhance generalizability, a community sample (versus undergraduates or a purely clinical sample) was recruited. Results indicated that acceptance was correlated with decreased negative affect during a negative emotion induction but not an affectively neutral condition (Study 1). In Study 2, acceptance interacted with life stress such that acceptance predicted lower levels of depressive symptoms after higher, but not lower, life stress. These results suggest that accepting negative experiences may protect individuals from experiencing negative affect and from developing depressive symptoms.

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