Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Tyler Renshaw


Tyler Renshaw


Gretchen Peacock


Michael Twohig


Maggie Chan


Jared Warren


Psychological flexibility (PF) is a skill that is related to various mental health experiences in adults. Higher levels of PF seem related to greater wellbeing. Given increases in mental health problems with youth, measuring PF and its inverse, psychological inflexibility (PI), might be useful for identifying those teenagers at risk for mental health challenges and referring them to appropriate interventions. To date, most measures of PF and PI are only available for adults older than 18, and, while theory suggests PF and PI are important for adolescent mental health, little research has examined the validity of these claims. This multipaper dissertation addressed this problem in the literature by conducting two studies exploring teenager responses to all items on the 60-item Multidimensional Psychological Flexibility Inventory (MPFI), which has shown to encompass a comprehensive representation of PF and PI with adults. The first study explored patterns in how teenagers aged 16–17 years (N = 249) responded to the MPFI. Findings showed the original 12-factor MPFI could be better represented by a simplified two-factor model. Ten items representing most processes contributed to represent a general PF construct, and 10 items representing most inverse processes contributed to represent PI. Items representing acceptance and experiential avoidance did not perform appropriately in representing PF and PI. The validity of this 20-item, two-factor measurement model for the MPFI was confirmed and extended in a second study with a larger sample of teenagers aged 14–17 years (N = 503). Findings from the second study showed scores from these two 10-item scales, PF and PI, predicted other measures representing life satisfaction, positive affect, anxiety, depression, current suicide risk, and past suicide attempt. Taken together, findings from both these studies suggest PF and PI can be represented in teenagers as summed scores of these separate 10-item scales. Both studies also highlight problems that MPFI items representing acceptance and experiential avoidance caused in representing PF and PI. Future recommendations for validating and measuring PF and PI in teenagers are discussed.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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