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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #330
Aversive and Appetitive Control of Complex Human Behavior
Monday, May 30, 2016
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Crystal Ballroom C, Hyatt Regency, Green West
Area: CBM/VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Jessica Auzenne (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Complex human behaviors have been characterized in a number of ways within contemporary behavioral communities. The operationalizing of such complex behaviors centers on the extent to which behavioral patterns are temporally extended or involve ostensibly unique human behaviors, including derived relational responding. Focusing on complex human behaviors is one way in which behavioral researchers can maintain a close link between basic experimental research and externally applicable, useful applications. Contextual control over derived relational responding is one area in which this link is important, as distinct clinical outcomes can be linked to appetitive and aversive sources of control. This symposium will examine basic research and theoretical investigations of derived relational responding under both aversive and appetitive control. The first paper will explore the transfer of the extinction of avoidance functions through derived relational networks. The second paper will explore derived relational responding and the transfer of values functions to arbitrary stimuli. The third paper will provide a functional contextual account of flow and hypothesize conditions under which this optimal state might be experienced.

Keyword(s): CBA, complex behaviors, function transfer, functional contextual

The Transfer of Extinction of Avoidance Functions Through Derived Relational Networks

NOLAN WILLIAMS (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Michael Bordieri (Murray State University)

Fear and avoidance are implicated in many forms of psychopathology, disrupting human functioning in a number of ways. This seems to be, in part, attributable to how readily fear and avoidance functions transfer across relational networks. Humans easily learn to fear and avoid novel events simply because of their derived relations with aversive events. Further, once established, the avoidant repertoire tends to dominate, suppressing behaviors under appetitive control. Developing procedures to disrupt avoidance and rebuild the behavioral repertoire has significant applied implications. Several studies have explored the transfer of extinction of fear avoidance functions across relational networks, but with mixed results. In short, the conditions under which transfer of extinction of avoidance functions occurs are not well understood. The current study aimed to add to the growing literature on the transfer of extinction of avoidance functions and to provide a preliminary investigation of the impact of derived extinction of avoidance on conditioned suppression. Implications for clinical treatment of avoidance-based difficulties will be discussed.


Learning With Purpose: A Preliminary Demonstration of Derived Transformation of Values Functions

TRACY PROTTI (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Nolan Williams (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Gina Quebedeaux Boullion (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emmie Hebert (University of Mississippi), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Michael Bordieri (Murray State University)

Values-based interventions are increasingly included in behavior therapy (e.g., Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and are purported to effect behavior change through transformation of function across relational networks. The current study aimed to demonstrate derived relational responding and subsequent transformation of function with values-relevant stimuli. Participants were 34 undergraduate students. Participants selected personally meaningful values-relevant stimuli and were trained through matching to sample to coordinate a subset of those stimuli to arbitrary stimuli. All participants exhibited mutual entailment, and all but one exhibited combinatorial entailment, suggesting that individuals learn to coordinate events with values quite readily. Further, there was evidence of transformation of functions, both in terms of changes in ratings of derived stimuli and in terms of changes in approach/avoidance behavior. These data are offered in support of continued scientific exploration of what values are, how they emerge, and how they are best intervened upon.

A Functional Contextual Analysis of Flow
GRAYSON BUTCHER (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: Experiences which foster a sense of absorption and engagement with the present moment greatly influence personal and professional behaviors. These sort of experiences go by many functionally synonymous names including getting “in the zone,” intensely concentrating, present–moment orientation, and being consistently productive and creative. Positive psychologists refer to these states and their accompanying activities as being in flow. Flow is one of three optimal experiences described by positive psychologists, the other two being spirituality and mindfulness (Lopez, Pedrotti, & Snyder, 2014). Together these experiences are said to be indicative—and possibly facilitative of—a deeper and more purpose-filled quality of living that is characterized by novelty, absorption, and the sacred. Within the behavior analytic community, little research has been done on activities associated with the flow state. The purpose of this conceptual paper is threefold: 1) to draw on existing empirical and conceptual behavioral literature to discuss and hypothesize the necessary and sufficient conditions (behavior-environment relations) which may account for the experience of flow, 2) to identify explanatory gaps (both empirical and conceptual) worthy of further inquiry, and 3) to situate the analysis of flow within CBS’s reticulated, progressive scientific enterprise.



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