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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Symposium #70
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Laboratory Research on Components of Acceptance and Commitment Training
Saturday, May 23, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon B
Area: CBM/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
Discussant: Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
CE Instructor: Jonathan J. Tarbox, Ph.D.

The effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) is supported by over 300 randomized controlled trials. ACT was developed on the basis of behavior analytic principles but most previous research has been in the context of psychotherapy interventions. More research is needed on the basic mechanisms responsible for behavior change within ACT. This symposium brings together two laboratory studies that examine components of ACT, from a relational frame theory perspective. The first presentation, by Barbara Gil-Luciano, consists of a study that evaluated the effects of two different defusion strategies on lab measures of rumination and memory. The second presentation, by Jorge Ruiz-Sanchez, examines the effects of a rule-governed behavior protocol on experimentally induced fear and avoidance.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): ACT, fear, RFT, rumination
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to describe rule-governed behavior motivative procedures to for decreasing avoidance responding in the presence of feared stimuli. Attendees will be able to describe how relational frame theory can be used to analyze private verbal responses and stimuli and their role in rumination. Attendees will be able to describe the radical behavioral philosophical basis for addressing private events in the science of behavior analysis.

Promoting Rumination and Analyzing the Differential Effect of Defusion Protocols on a Memory Task

(Basic Research)
BARBARA GIL-LUCIANO (Universidad Nebrija & MICPSY, Madrid), Tatiana Calderon (Konrad Lorenz, Colombia), Daniel Tovar (Konrad Lorenz, Colombia), Beatriz Sebastian (Universidad Almería, Spain), Francisco Ruiz (Konrad Lorenz, Colombia)

Psychological inflexibility is made of distinct reactions that are oriented to lessen distress. In this sense, worry and rumination (RNT) are strategies that seem to be common denominators in many psychological disorders. Cutting-edge RFT approach suggests that both strategies are triggered by framing thoughts in hierarchical relations. This study had two parts. Firstly, we explored such a hierarchical organization of thoughts with two ruminative induction procedures, analyzing their impact on a memory task. Secondly, we examined the differential effect of two defusion protocols that aimed to alter the discriminative avoidant functions of triggers for RNTand a control condition.Results suggest that inducting RNT with stronger triggers (thoughts at the top of the hierarchy, or “big ones”, that symbolically contain or are inclusive of weaker thoughts or triggers) showed a more negative effect in the task performance than inducting RNT with less stronger triggers. Results also indicate that participants that were intervened with the defusion protocol that specifically containedhierarchical cues to reduce the discriminative avoidant functions of triggers for RNTshowed a better performance at post-test, in comparison with participants that received a defusion protocol that only contained deictic cues, and with a control condition. Results also informed that, when promoting a hierarchical relation between the individual (deictic I) and his or herstronger triggerfor RNT, the level of concentration was higher at post-test than when targeting an individual’s less stronger trigger – all triggers being related.Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.


Analyzing the Impact of a Higher-Order Motivative Protocol (Values) on Experimentally Induced Fear and Avoidance Responding

(Basic Research)
L. JORGE RUIZ-SANCHEZ (University of Almería), Carmen Luciano Soriano (University Almería, Spain)

Defusion and values-based protocols are built of interactions that involve responding under the overarching motivative functions, as higher-order establishing operations, while integrating rules-driven emotive functions present at the moment. The present study aims to analyze the impact of a higher-order motivate protocol (values) on experimentally induced fear responding. Firstly, 55 participants underwent an aversively conditioned task where non-avoidance was followed by shocks and noises, whereas a black screen followed avoidance responding. Next, participants randomly received one of three protocols: (a), conditional motivative protocol, which involved a conditional relation between non-avoidance and earning money; (b), as (a) plus adding a higher-order function for non-avoidance (conditional + higher-order motivative protocol). And (c), the same as previous but only a higher-order function was included (higher-order motivative protocol). Lastly, participants repeated the experimental task. Results show that the conditional motivative protocol has little impact on avoidance behavior, whereas higher-order motivative protocols suppress completely avoidance behavior, even in the presence of elicited fear responses.




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