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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #151
Short Mindfulness Interventions With the Old, the Young and the Fearful
Sunday, May 30, 2010
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Lone Star Ballroom Salon D (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Liv Kosnes (Swansea University)
Discussant: Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: The current symposium consists of three papers the unifying concern of which is the empirical testing of short mindfulness interventions. The first paper investigates the impact of mindfulness and willingness on the generation of specific details in recalling past and future events. The second paper compares mindfulness and thought suppression as coping strategies for phobic individuals with phobia related content. The final paper investigates the utility of mindfulness versus unfocused attention in overcoming dysfunctional levels of stimulus over-selectivity in an elderly population. The findings from all three studies suggest the utility of mindfulness in comparison with other interventions including unfocused attention and thought suppression in a range of populations.
Willingness and Specificity in Future Expectations and Recall Following a Focused Breathing Intervention
LIV KOSNES (Swansea University), Louise A. McHugh (University of Wales Swansea)
Abstract: The current study investigated whether a brief focused breathing instruction in a normal, primarily undergraduate population would affect the recall of past, and generation of future, positive and negative events. The effects of the focused breathing induction were compared with the effects of a brief instruction of unfocused attention. The Autobiographical Memory Task (ATM) and the Future Cueing Task (FCT) were used to determine past and future thoughts, both measures presented positive and negative cues to assess Autobiographical Memory Specificity (AMS) and Future Event Specificity (FES). Increased specificity in recall and generation of future events and a greater willingness to recall and generate negative events by the focused breathing group may reflect higher levels of psychological flexibility in response to negative stimuli. The results are discussed in regards to the link between deficits in specificity relating to past and future negative events and the role mindfulness may play in mediating a willingness to tolerate and accept uncomfortable emotions and sensations.
The Behavioural Approach Test: Thought Suppression Versus Mindfulness
NICHOLAS HOOPER (Swansea University), Laura Davies (Swansea University), Louise A. McHugh (University of Wales Swansea)
Abstract: Thought suppression is the attempted removal of one's thoughts. The literature on thought suppression suggests that the more one tries to remove an unwanted thought the more that thought will subsequently appear. Higher levels of attempted thought suppression have been linked to phobias. Mindfulness exercises might provide an alternative to thought suppression for coping with unwanted thoughts. The current study aimed to compare mindfulness versus thought suppression instructions across a group of phobic participants dealing with phobia related content. Spider phobes versus non spider phobes were exposed to either a mindfulness or a thought suppression induction and then asked to complete The Behavioural Approach Test (BAT). The BAT is a ten-step measurement of how close participants are willing to move towards a spider. Spider phobic and non spider phobic individuals were recruited. Participants were told to use the intervention to help them advance through the steps of the BAT. The results of the study indicated that participants given the thought suppression intervention moved through significantly less steps of the BAT than did those given the mindfulness intervention. These results are discussed in terms of the impact of thought suppression on avoidance behaviour in phobias.
Stimulus Over-Selectivity as a Model of Cognitive Functioning in Older Adults: Mindfulness as a Potential Intervention
LOUISE A. MCHUGH (University of Wales Swansea), Anna Simpson (Swansea University), Phil Reed (University of Wales Swansea)
Abstract: Ageing is related to significant declines in cognitive functioning. This effect can have a serious impact on the physical and psychological health of older adults as well as their quality of life. One phenomenon linked to cognitive deficits, particularly attention that has been demonstrated to emerge with ageing is over-selectivity. Over-selectivity occurs when behaviour is controlled by a limited number of stimuli in the environment. Mindfulness is a construct that specifically targets attention and awareness of the present moment. The current study aimed to remediate over-selectivity in an elderly population by means of a focused attention/ mindfulness induction. The results of this study indicated that stimulus over-selectivity can be elicited in older adults and level emergent over-selectivity was significantly reduced when compared to an unfocused attention control group. The findings are discussed in terms of the efficacy of mindfulness training in reducing age related cognitive deficits.



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