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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #293
International Symposium - Relational Frame Theory Goes to Work! Addressing the Verbal Nature of Workplace Behavior
Monday, May 29, 2006
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Area: OBM; Domain: Theory
Chair: Kristen A. Maglieri (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) differs from traditional psychological approaches to improving workplace productivity in so far as it explicitly focuses on the contingencies that facilitate, maintain or obstruct profit-making behaviors. This focus has led to practical and successful interventions in a wide variety of commercial settings. However, while there is consensus on the efficacy of OBM interventions, there has recently been considerable debate about the processes that contribute to the successes of OBM interventions, in particular those of a verbal or cognitive character. The current symposium includes three papers that address issues in OBM from the perspective of a novel behavioral approach to verbal and cognitive behavior, Relational Frame Theory (RFT). The first paper introduces RFT and outlines a number of areas within which clarity is required within OBM that might be provided by RFT. The second paper examines the effects of goal setting in organizations from an RFT perspective. The third paper focuses on the verbal nature of performance feedback and reports a study in which feedback had counterintuitive effects on performance due to this nature.
An Overview of Relational Frame Theory and its Relevance to Organizational Behavior Management.
ERIC J. FOX (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Interventions in organizational behavior management (OBM) are typically focused on analyzing and modifying the contingencies that operate in a given organizational context, and have resulted in a great deal of success. Most OBM work is done with highly verbal humans, however, and an increasing amount of evidence shows that basic verbal processes can, and do, moderate the effects of other environmental contingencies. Further, many OBM interventions rely on highly verbal processes (e.g., feedback and goal setting), and often result in inconsistent results and debate over the basic principles involved in such interventions. Relational Frame Theory (RFT), a technical behavioral account of verbal behavior, may help OBM researchers and practitioners develop more precise analyses of verbal interventions and better manage verbal processes to improve the effectiveness of traditional interventions. To facilitate discussion and understanding of other papers in this symposium, an overview of the core concepts and operant analysis of RFT will be provided. The manner in which great complexity can emerge from simple verbal operants, relational frames, will also be outlined and its relevance to OBM highlighted.
Goal Statements and Goal Directed Behavior – A Novel Behavioral Approach to Goal Setting in Organizations.
DENIS P. O'HORA (University of Ulster), Kristen A. Maglieri (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: In traditional industrial organizational psychology literature, goal setting has consistently been shown to increase performance under specific conditions. Typically, these goal setting effects have been explored from a cognitive perspective, but, recently, a number of behavioral researchers have developed accounts based on traditional behavioral concepts. We suggest that both cognitive approaches and previous behavioral approaches have significant limitations. Cognitive approaches have, to a large extent, ignored the context within which goal setting works and the contingencies that maintain goal-directed behavior. Conversely, behavioral researchers have struggled to explain how particular types of content contribute to the beneficial effects of goal setting. We propose a novel account based on Relational Frame Theory. This account focuses on both the content of goal statements and the contingencies that maintain goal directed behavior. Throughout we relate this two-part approach to goal setting to specific recommendations for practice and future basic research.
When Knowing You are Doing Well Hinders Performance: Exploring the Interaction Between Rules and Feedback.
JOSEPH R. HAAS (Northern Nevada Child and Adolescent Services), Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Very little behavior analytic research has been done on the verbal nature of verbal feedback. In the present study the impact of two types of verbal consequences, rule-following feedback and task performance feedback, on rule-induced insensitivity to programmed schedules of reinforcement were examined. Rule-following feedback could be either accurate or non-contingently positive. The task involved moving a sign through a grid using telegraph keys operating on a multiple DRL 6/FR 18 schedule of reinforcement in the presence of an initially accurate rule. After acquisition, the multiple schedule was changed without notice to a FR 1/FIYoked schedule. Accurate rule-following feedback plus feedback on task performance produced striking insensitivity to the DRL 6 to FR 1 schedule change, the opposite of what might be expected by a common sense analysis of task performance feedback, even after controlling for contact with the changed contingency. It is argued that findings such as these can only be understood by considering the mutual verbal relations evoked by the combinations of rules and feedback, rather than treating feedback as a simple consequential event or as a verbal consequence whose effects do not depend on the relations sustained with other events.



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