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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #63
CE Offered: BACB
Embracing and Engaging College Life: Brief Acceptance and Values-Based Interventions with College Students
Saturday, May 23, 2015
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Texas Ballroom Salon B (Grand Hyatt)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Madison Gamble (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Discussant: Timothy M. Weil (University of South Florida)
CE Instructor: Timothy M. Weil, Ph.D.

College challenges students to face a period of incredible change while building healthy habits that will serve their lives long term. Brief ACT interventions may be ideal to improve the productivity and effectiveness in college students personal and academic ventures. The papers in this symposium explore applications of brief acceptance and values-based interventions on test preparation, physical exercise, coping with social exclusion, and academic performance. The first paper will discuss impacts of a one-time intervention on Graduate Record Examination (GRE) preparation behavior. The second explores students exercise performance with avoidance vs. values instructions. The third described values affirmation as a possible protective factor against negative social experiences. The final paper evaluated a values-based intervention that focused on purposeful action and highlighted the obstacles preventing students from persisting through academia. Implications for the integration of brief acceptance- and values-based interventions to improve college student well being will be discussed.

Keyword(s): ACT Intervention, College Well-being, Social Exclusion
Turning a Mountain into a Molehill: Acceptance and Commitment Training to Increase GRE Preparation Behavior
RACHAEL JUDICE (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Benjamin Ramos (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Nolan Williams (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Madison Gamble (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Squyres (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: For students who plan to continue their education in graduate school, the Graduate Record Examination, commonly known as the GRE, is a great challenge that may stand in their way. Many students struggle with GRE-related anxiety, which they often respond to by avoiding preparation altogether. While this results in short-term relief, avoidance only increases anxiety in the long run, making performance impairment more and more likely. Common interventions to improve GRE preparation focus on describing the test and instructing test-taking strategies, with the assumption that anxiety will decrease as students become more prepared. Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) offers a different approach, directly targeting flexibility and breadth in the student’s behavior in the context of GRE-related anxiety. This study compared the differential impacts of a traditional GRE preparation workshop with an ACT intervention targeting GRE-related anxiety. Training flexibility with anxiety, through ACT, may increase students’ preparation behavior to a greater degree than traditional GRE workshops.

Moving Away vs. Moving Toward: The Differential Impact of Experiential Avoidance and Values Instructions on Physical Exercise

RYAN ALBARADO (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emmy LeBleu (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Nolan Williams (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Alyson Giesemann (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

The broad benefits of physical exercise and athletic involvement are well documented. Most Americans accurately describe the benefits of exercise and report wanting to exercise more. Yet, implementing a regular exercise program presents a significant challenge for most people. This may be attributable to the strength and salience of immediate aversive consequences compared to long-term appetitives. Initiating exercise is physically uncomfortable and often frustrating long before any perceptible benefits.It may be that initiating and maintaining a program of exercise involves verbally-mediated contingencies. These contingencies might facilitate aversive control (e.g., avoidance of feeling fat) or appetitive control (e.g., approaching feeling more vibrant). The purpose of this analogue study was to examine the impact of varying instructions on endurance during a cycling task. Preliminary data suggests differential performance incyclingtasks under three different instruction conditions: a no instruction baseline, experiential avoidance instructions (i.e., imaginecyclingaway from something unwanted), values instructions (i.e., imaginecyclingtoward something meaningful). Implications of findings for facilitating exercise and athletic endurance will be discussed along with broad implications for behavior change under aversive and appetitive control.

Bulletproof Vest?: Protecting Against the Impact of Social Exclusion with Values Writing
EMMY LEBLEU (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: Eating is a behavior that is essential to all animal life. In human beings eating behavior is directed by a complex interplay between environmental variables. This includes the vast social environment that human beings are immersed in. In some circumstances the social environment can have a beneficial impact on human eating behavior (i.e. they can influence healthier food selection). However, in other cases social influence can have a malicious impact on human eating behaviors. For instance, people can show decreased sensitivity to satiety when eating with large groups of familiar individuals resulting in overeating. Research suggests that individuals who are obese or overweight experience greater amounts of social stress in the form of discrimination and exclusion than normal weight controls. Unfortunately, being ignored by others has been found to increase consumption of palatable foods, which could perpetuate the obesity struggle in a cyclical manner. Fortunately, writing about what one cares about (i.e. one’s values) has been found to attenuate the impact of being ignored or ostracized. This presentation will explore data related to the impact of a one time valued writing exercise on the eating behaviors of obese and non-obese participants following an experience of ostracism.
Eyes Wide Shut: The Impact of Flexibility Counseling With College Probation Students
ASHLYNE MULLEN (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Lisa Landry (University of Louisiana at Lafayette )
Abstract: It is common for students to experience academic difficulty during their college career. While some may struggle with managing classes, others may struggle with non-academic factors that directly affect their academic success. For example, avoidant coping has been recognized as a problematic behavior for many college students (DeBerard, Spielmans, & Julka, 2004). In addition, many students enter college without a sense of direction. This study evaluated a values-based intervention that focused on purposeful action and highlighted the obstacles preventing students from persisting. First-year undergraduates placed on academic probation participated in a one-hour values intervention, followed by one-on-one meetings throughout the semester with an academic counselor. Preliminary data suggests that using psychological flexibility techniques increased values-based behavior and decreased inflexible behaviors. In addition, seventy-one percent of the students’ GPA increased, with sixty-four percent of those earning a good standing status for that semester. Implications for effective academic success interventions will be discussed.



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