Association for Behavior Analysis International

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31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #230
Int'l Symposium - Derived Relations and Psychopathology
Sunday, May 29, 2005
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Boulevard A (2nd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Lorretto M. Cunningham (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: The papers presented in the current study are concerned with the role of derived relations in human psychopathology. Paper 1 set out to develop experimental procedures for the investigation of the derived transfer of expectancy functions, and highlights the implications that this has for a behavioral account of the acquisition and maintenance of irrational fears. Papers 2 and 3 report studies that employ a matching-to-sample procedure to generate A-B and B-C conditional discriminations in which the B element consists of highly aversive or pleasant visual images. The test for derived relations then require subjects to relate the A and C stimuli via either an aversive or a pleasant event. Differences in performance across aversive and pleasant stimulus conditions may have implications for our understanding of experiential avoidance based on verbal processes. Finally, paper 4 investigated the role of instructions in the formation of implicit associations measured through self-reports. All four papers constitute attempts to identify some of the basic verbal processes involved in human psychopathology.
A Behavior Analytic Investigation of Expectancy Bias: Developing a Relational Frame Exploration of “Expectancy” Functions Model of Irrational Fears
SINEAD SMYTH (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: Contemporary classical conditioning models of phobias and anxiety have addressed some of the criticisms made of early models and researchers have begun to recognise the role of “conscious cognitions” in the maintenance of irrational fears. One method used to study this component of classical conditioning involves measuring verbal expectations about the nature of the UCS. Behavioral researchers have also looked at the cognitive/verbal components of classical conditioning and numerous studies have reported the transformation of functions in accordance with derived stimulus relations. Some of these studies have attempted to develop models of human psychopathology by investigating the derived transfer of elicited fear responses. Because of the implications that the expectancy bias model has for clinical psychology it is important to investigate the role of expectancy in these transfer responses. Although this expectancy-based interpretation of the derived transfer of elicited fear functions seems reasonable, it has not been systematically tested under laboratory conditions. The current paper presents a series of experiments that set out to develop experimental procedures for the investigation of the derived transfer of expectancy functions. The research highlights the need for caution in constructing simplistic Pavlovian and/or derived relations models of phobic and other anxiety based responses.
Exploring Experiential Avoidance Through Derived Stimulus Relations
FODHLA COOGAN (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Yvonne Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: Several recent studies have investigated the possible relationship between experiential avoidance and the derivation of stimulus relations. Under certain experimental conditions, highly verbally sophisticated adults fail to derive stimulus relations and one of these conditions may involve the inclusion of aversive stimuli in the target relational networks. The aim of the current study was to replicate and extend existing research and to investigate specific experimental factors that might limit an individual's ability to derive stimulus relations involving aversive stimuli. The results of the study indicate the impact of aversive stimuli on the derivation of stimulus relations and suggest that this analysis may offer a useful empirical analog of experiential avoidance.
Experiential Avoidance and Deficits in Autobiographical Memory
LORRETTO M. CUNNINGHAM (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Yvonne Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: The current study investigated the possible role of experiential avoidance in deficits in autobiographical memory from a relational frame theory perspective. According to this view, impairments in the recall of autobiographical details may be the result of experiential avoidance, through which individuals avoid the derivation of specific stimulus relations that are likely to actualize aversive psychological functions. Adult participants were exposed to training and testing on relational networks that may or may not have contained aversive stimuli. The levels of accuracy and reaction times on the tests for derived stimulus relations that did and did not involve aversive stimuli were compared. The findings of the study indicate that experiential avoidance may account for the absence of derived stimulus relations involving aversive stimuli and that this in turn may be relevant to similar deficits in the recall of autobiographical details.
Implicit Associations and Self-Reports: The Role of Instructions
SINEAD SMYTH (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: It has been proposed that explicit tests for the transfer of functions may not reflect the nature of relations formed as accurately as implicit tests. Specifically Hall et al. (2003) reported a procedure in which participants demonstrated a type of transfer of functions effect using a motor response but apparently reported a relation that was inconsistent with the transfer. However, the instructions used by Hall et al. were presented after the transfer test and may well have biased the participants towards a particular type of verbal report. The current study replicates and extends Experiment 4 of Hall et al. by manipulating the type of instruction presented to the participants. The current findings have important implications for understanding the behavioral processes involved in implicit associations and their relationship to participants’ verbal reports.



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