Psychological Flexibility and Interconnected Transcendence: Associations with Well-Being and Prosocial Feelings and Behaviors

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2023-05-09

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Abstract

Psychological flexibility is the construct that underlies Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Hayes et al., 2012). Recent research has called for a greater understanding of psychological flexibility, suggesting that the intrapersonal nature of psychological flexibility may extend outward towards others as an interpersonal construct (Cherry et al., 2021; Doorley et a., 2020; Kashdan et al., 2020; Tyndall et al., 2019). Psychological flexibility appears to be associated with constructs such as quiet ego and self-transcendence, which posit a meta-awareness of the self, a reduction in the salience of the self, finding meaning in life, and resisting a pathological connection with the self (Ciarrochi et al., 2013; Wayment et al., 2014; Worth & Smith, 2021). Both theories of self-transcendence and quiet ego propose that an explicit focus on connectedness with others (e.g., people, animals, environment) while decreasing the salience of the self can lead to increased prosociality and well-being (Vago & Silbersweig, 2012; Wayment & Bauer, 2017). Given the proposed unique relationships among psychological flexibility, quiet ego, and self-transcendence, psychological flexibility may have distinct and underlying interconnectedness and interpersonal components that has been sparsely researched to this point. To investigate this, a correlational cross-sectional design was conducted to examine the relationships among psychological flexibility, quiet ego, and self-transcendence, as well as their relationship with measures of well-being and prosocial behavior. An analysis was conducted on data collected from three hundred and twelve adults through the Prolific survey service. We hypothesized that psychological flexibility would be moderately associated with constructs that promote reduced salience of self, an increased focus on connectedness with others, and prosocial feelings and behaviors. As hypothesized, psychological flexibility demonstrated moderate to strong relationships with constructs that have a significant interpersonal and interconnected component. This may suggest that psychological flexibility can extend beyond its intrapersonal focus and begin to be considered in the realm of interpersonal functioning. Lastly, these findings may suggest that psychological flexibility should be studied further in an interpersonal and interconnected context potentially leading to interpersonal treatment targets.

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Keywords

Psychological flexibility, quiet ego, self-transcendence, perspective-taking, empathy, prosociality, prosocial, well-being, eudaimonic, hedonic, self-as-context, observing self

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