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Over the past decade, experimental and longitudinal research has shown that psychological flexibility is an important determinant of mental health and behavioural effectiveness in the workplace. These findings have been established using a general measure of this psychological process, the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire–Revised (AAQ-II). Consistent with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) theory, psychological flexibility may demonstrate even stronger associations with variables related to a work context (e.g., job satisfaction) if it were assessed using a measure of the construct that is tailored to the workplace. To test this hypothesis, we first developed such a measure, the work-related acceptance and action questionnaire (WAAQ). Findings from 745 participants across three studies reveal that the structure, validity and reliability of the WAAQ are satisfactory. As predicted, the WAAQ, in comparison with the AAQ-II, correlates significantly more strongly with work-specific variables. In contrast, the AAQ-II tends to correlate more strongly with outcomes that are likely to be more stable across different contexts (e.g., mental health and personality variables). These findings are discussed in relation to ACT theory.

Practitioner points

  • Experimental and longitudinal research has shown that psychological flexibility is an individual characteristic that is an important determinant of mental health and behavioural effectiveness in the workplace.
  • The Work-Related Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (WAAQ) assesses psychological flexibility as it relates to the workplace.
  • Psychological flexibility is a useful individual characteristic for practitioners to assess, as it is stable over time, but interventions can also enhance it, and, as a result, improve mental health and behavioural effectiveness in the workplace.