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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #260
Relational Skills Training for Enhancing Intelligence: The Science of Destabilizing Stable Traits
Sunday, May 24, 2020
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Level M2, Marquis Ballroom 6
Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
CE Instructor: Jonathan J. Tarbox, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: BRYAN ROCHE (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

Part of the mission of radical behaviorism is to increase control over behavioral variability in all domains of human activity, and perhaps especially those in which activity is seen as constrained by invariant traits. One such “invariant trait” is intelligence, a concept long understood to represent a mentalism. However, it is only recently that behavior analysts have made progress in providing a functional-analytic model of intelligence that was sufficiently progressive to produce targeted interventions that can increase intellectual skill fluency to the point where large and reliable gains are observable on standardised tests of intelligence. In this talk Dr. Bryan Roche of Maynooth University, Ireland, will outline the rationale behind one such intervention method, known as SMART training (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training), which has emerged from a Relational Frame Theory account of derived stimulus relations. The talk will also outline evidence of the positive effects on intellectual functioning of the SMART intervention, and argue that for pragmatic, ethical, and now empirical reasons, psychologists’ traditional conceptualization of intelligence needs to be revised.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students. 

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) define a derived stimulus relation and outline the usual laboratory procedures for generating them; (2) describe the main differences between a stimulus equivalence and a Relational Frame Theory account of derived stimulus relations; (3) provide and generate their own examples of common IQ test items that clearly assess a small set of relational framing skills; (4) discuss the relevance of relational skill fluency to everyday intellectual skill proficiency; (5) interpret findings from several studies that have claimed to increase IQ scores using relational skills training interventions.
BRYAN ROCHE (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Dr. Bryan Roche has been a member of academic staff at MU since 2000.  His early work was on the development of Relational Frame Theory, a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition, the first text for which has been cited over 1000 times in the academic literature.  He is author of over 100 peer reviewed papers and book chapters.  Dr. Roche has developed an online intervention, based on Relational Frame Theory, that is the only intervention currently known by psychologists to increase IQ by clinically significant degrees (around 15 points) for many or most users.  This method is known as SMART (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training), and is offered online by the MU campus company of which Dr. Roche is a co-director.  Dr. Roche also conducts research into fear and avoidance as part of wider interest in anxiety, and has developed a new implicit test, built from first learning principles, called the FAST (Function Acquisition Speed Test), also available online as a test and in modified form as a therapeutic intervention to  enhance psychological flexibility in the context of troubling emotional issues. 



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