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 #474
International Symposium - Experimental Analysis of Verbal Processes: Transfer of Function and Clinical Implications
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
12:00 PM–1:20 PM
International Ballroom South
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Maria Sonsoles Valdivia Salas (University of New Mexico)
Discussant: Ian T. Stewart (National University of Ireland, Galway)
Abstract: This session presents three papers that attempt to experimentally address the analysis of basic verbal processes involved in several psychological problems, with an especial focus on transfer of functions and the application of therapeutic strategies based on such process in recent behavioral therapies like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Altogether, these papers explore the conditions necessary for the alteration and transfer of motivational and aversive/avoidance functions, and they discuss their implications for specific disorders. The first paper presents experimental research on the function-altering properties of language, with an experimental preparation for the study of establishing stimulus functions. It also presents some clinical implications relevant to an analysis of anxiety disorders. The second paper presents an experimental analysis of the transfer of avoidance and conditioned emotional responses, which has important implications for a behavioral analysis of the aetiology of fears and phobias. The last paper presents a brief acceptance-based intervention for the treatment of addictions in teenagers, with an especial focus on personal values
Experimental Study of Verbal Motivation: Clinical Implications.
MARIA SONSOLES VALDIVIA SALAS (University of New Mexico), Michael J. Dougher (University of New Mexico)
Abstract: A fundamental issue when dealing with the explanation and treatment of several anxiety related disorders is the generalized and long lasting alteration of the reinforcing/aversive properties of stimuli. Although this alteration has been extensively explored within a direct conditioning approach, however the verbal implication on this phenomenon is just starting to be empirically demonstrated. The aim of this study was to check for the alteration of the reinforcing/aversive functions of certain stimuli, as well as the probability of the behavior followed by such consequences in the past, as the result of pairing these stimuli with actual reinforcers/punishers by means of direct and derived conditioning. Thirty university students took part in the study. A pre-post measures within-subject design with one experimental and two control conditions was employed. In the experimental condition, a matching to sample procedure was used for the formation of two three member classes (A1-B1-C1/A2-B2-C2). B1 was paired with aversive stimulation and B2 was paired with reinforcing stimulation. The pattern of choice of several shapes was measured right before and after pairing them with the B stimuli and with the C stimuli. The shapes paired with the stimuli with reinforcing functions were chosen more frequently, with different patterns of choice for the subjects in the control conditions. Results are discussed in terms of verbal establishing stimuli functions and their clinical implications.
Aversive Conditioning and Avoidance in Humans: The Role of Transfer of Functions.
MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ-VALVERDE (Universidad de Almería, Spain), Maria Sonsoles Valdivia Salas (University of New Mexico)
Abstract: The present study analyzes the acquisition and arbitrary relational transfer of avoidance responses (keypresses) and autonomic activation responses (skin conductance and heart rate responses) established through differential aversive conditioning with human participants. Based on previous work where both transfer of skin conductance responses and transfer of avoidance responses (computer key presses) were obtained, this study presents a reversal design for a signalled avoidance task that allows the concurrent within-subject measurement of both respondently conditioned autonomic responses and of avoidance responses. Twenty undergraduate volunteers took part in the study. Each of them was taught two five-member equivalence classes through matching-to-sample training. After symmetry and equivalence tests, subjects underwent a differential aversive conditioning and signalled avoidance task. This preparation consisted of the presentation of each CS on the screen for 8 seconds, with the presentation of an avoidance cue during the last three seconds of the CS duration interval. Class 1 members were paired with mild electric shock simultaneous to CS offset (delay conditioning), whereas class 2 members were presented as CS-. Certain specific trials within each acquisition phase served as transfer tests. More than 75% of participants showed transfer of avoidance responses to class members that had not undergone direct conditioning. Results are discussed in regard to their implications for a behavior-analytic account of human emotional responding.
A Brief ACT Protocol Applied to Preventing Chronic Addictive Behavior.
JAVIER HILINGER-SANCHEZ (Universidad de Almería, Spain), Carmen Luciano Soriano (Universidad de Almería, Spain)
Abstract: Addictions (cocaine, smoking, Internet, cellular phone, etc.) lead people to behave in a way that reduces urges or aversive states. However, this pattern of responding is frequently opposite to having a valued life. The present study is designed to generate an analogue of a situation where subjects choose to control the urge in detriment of valued actions. Given such a situation, the aim of the study is to analyze the impact of a brief acceptance-values-defusion ACT protocol over such a pattern of behavior to increase acceptance of the urge and behave more in accordance with personal values. Twenty subjects participated, ten in the experimental condition and ten in a control condition. Several variables were taken, focused in outcome as well as process measures. Subsequently, a similar protocol was applied to a high-risk adolescence sample for dependence in smoking, Internet and cellular phones. Results are discussed in terms of the impact of ACT as well as in the process involved in preventing chronic and limiting patterns of behaving.



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