Objective: we examined individual differences in the effects of expressive writing. We hypothesized that moderate levels of neuroticism, low levels of experiential avoidance, and highly rated subjective severity would be linked to greater change in well-being post-writing. Design: participants were randomly assigned to the expressive group (N = 104) who wrote about emotion-laden experiences, or the control group (N = 51) who wrote about everyday events. All completed the IES and BSI pre and 1, 3, and 6 weeks post-writing. Results: overall, we replicated the seminal result, with greater reductions in IES scores in the expressive writing group. In addition, in the expressive group, as expected, participants with higher severity scores had greater reductions in BSI scores. Surprisingly, individuals with high rather than moderate neuroticism and high rather than low experiential avoidance scores also experienced more benefit. Conclusions: participants who are more aware of, in touch with, and suffer more from negative feelings are those who gain the most from expressive writing. Based on this conclusion, clinical implications relevant to both psychotherapy patients and non-patients are suggested.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd
- Experiential avoidance
- Expressive writing
- Individual differences
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine