Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #15
International Symposium - Applications of Relational Frame Theory (RFT): Theory, Research, and Practice (Part I)
Saturday, May 26, 2007
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Cunningham C
Area: EDC/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Nicholas M. Berens (University of Nevada, Reno & Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.)
Discussant: Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)

As the title implies, this two-part symposium will bring together current theory, research, and practice revolving around the application of RFT. Theoretical commentary will focus on the issues of derived relational responding as generalized operant classes, potential applications that are implicit in RFT, and strategies for assessing deficits and excesses in derived relational responding. Research presented herein will focus on the continuing bridge between Skinners system of verbal behavior and RFT, as well as, the refinement of procedures used to establish types of derived relational responding associated with higher cognitive functioning. Finally, descriptions and examples of real world applications of RFT from language training and educational settings will be provided. The goal of the two-part symposium is to provide a forum for practitioners and researchers to contact the current status of the technological developments applying RFT to real world problems.

The Practical Value of Viewing Derived Relational Responding as a “Generalized” Operant.
NICHOLAS M. BERENS (University of Nevada, Reno & Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.), Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: A fundamental property of an operant class is that it is modifiable by its consequences. Thus, any collection of behavior may participate in the same operant class, regardless of how dissimilar their topographies, if it can be shown that they are sensitive to the same consequences. The term “generalized” is often used to denote the identification of an operant class that is not readily defined by the formal properties of its members. Such classes include but are not limited to generalized imitation, generalized identity matching, and generalized attending. By viewing behavior on functional grounds, Applied Behavior Analysis has the benefit of avoiding a piecemeal approach to establishing socially meaningful repertoires. For example, when “generalized imitation” is established individuals may acquire novel responses even though those responses have not been isolated and directly trained. Similarly, it is considered unethical to target an aberrant behavior for reduction without also targeting an appropriate alternative response for acquisition. Recent investigations have demonstrated that derived relational responding may practically, if not empirically, be viewed as a generalized operant. The current paper will detail the applied value in treating derived relational responding as operant behavior.
The Impact of Training Deictic Frames on Perspective Taking in Young Children: A Relational Frame Approach to Theory of Mind.
TIMOTHY M. WEIL (Florida State University, Panama City), Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: The ability to infer mental states of others­such as beliefs, desires, and intentions­is said to emerge in typically developing individuals between the ages of two and five years. The primary view in this area posits that a Theory of Mind (ToM) mechanism is responsible for the development of this group of abilities. As a perspective taking repertoire has been shown to be pivotal in a variety of social and interpersonal interactions, it would be beneficial to identify the process involved in building such a repertoire. The present study examined 1) the possibility that deictic relational responding could be viewed, and trained as operant behavior, and, 2) the relationship between the acquisition of deictic relational frames and increased performance on standard true/false belief and deception tasks. It was found that deictic relational frames can be shaped as operant behavior. In addition, as accuracy on the deictic relational frames increased in complexity, the children’s scores on the ToM measures also increased. In addition, as the ToM probe tests included novel stimuli, generalization was shown.
RFT Based Interventions for Enhancing Listening and Reading Comprehension.
MARIANNE L. JACKSON (University of Nevada, Reno), Nicholas M. Berens (University of Nevada, Reno & Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.), Kimberly Nix Berens (Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.), Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno), Kendra L. Rickard (University of Nevada, Reno & Center for Advanced Learning, Inc.), Maria T. Stevenson (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: There is a solid base of research from the behavior analytic, speech pathology, and educational literatures on how to establish early reading repertoires. However, as textual material becomes more sophisticated the research becomes less informative on how to effectively instruct reading comprehension. It is taken for granted that students will automatically “map” their listening and speaking repertoires to textual materials. However, such assumptions have left many students to their own devices, and in turn establish reading as an aversive event. Furthermore, educational technologies that recognize this potential disconnect often provide instruction on reading comprehension in a haphazard manner. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) provides a theoretical and empirical account of the types of operant classes that may facilitate greater understanding of textual materials. The current paper will describe how taking a few key relational frames may guide the development of functional approach to teaching reading comprehension. Additionally, the paper will report on attempts to synthesize this approach to teaching reading comprehension with Direct Instruction and Think Aloud Problem Solving (TAPS) in a Precision Teaching learning center.



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