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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #422
CE Offered: BACB
Innovative Measurement in Relational Frame Theory Research and Related Practice Issues
Monday, May 30, 2022
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 255
Area: VRB/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Elana Keissa Sickman (Missouri State University)
Discussant: Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University)
CE Instructor: Jordan Belisle, Ph.D.

This symposium will span multiple novel and innovative areas of investigation in relational frame theory (RFT) research. The presentations will include 1) translational research that incorporates neurological measures when engaging in derived relational responding (e.g., eye gaze patterns, electroencephalography, and blood-oxygen-level-dependent signals during functional magnetic resonance imaging); 2) an extension of Relational Density Theory research via an evaluation of differences between coherent and non-coherent relational classes when both classes are exposed to coherence training, using the Multidimensional Scaling Procedure to model results; 3) the effect of perspective taking and values consistency tasks on an implicit racial bias measure via the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure; and finally 4) survey results that sought to characterize the current state of knowledge of?perceptions?of RFT and equivalence-based instruction, educational experiences, and barriers that researchers and practitioners might encounter in interpreting and implementing derived stimulus relations research. In sum, presentations 1-3 seek to advance the state of knowledge of complex concepts and the measurement and application of those concepts, while presentation 4 seeks to shed light on potential gaps in knowledge in the field to make use of the above advances.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Neuroscience, Perspective taking, Relational density, Stimulus equivalence
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts, students, and faculty

Learning Objectives: (1) describe relational density theory and coherence; (2) discuss behavioral models of perspective taking; (3) describe neurological events in derived relational responding
Relational Density Theory: Further Exploration of Coherence Between Relational Classes
CALEB STANLEY (Utah Valley University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Sydney Jensen (Utah Valley University), Sarah Makenzie Lindemann (Utah Valley University)
Abstract: Relational Density Theory (RDT) is an extension on Relational Frame Theory that attempts to provide a quantitative model to predict non-linearity and self-organization of relational classes. Recent research on RDT has evaluated the degree to which pre-experimental coherence among relational classes influences the development of merged classes. Specifically, research has shown successful mergers with coherent relational classes, whereas mergers were not demonstrated with non-coherent relational classes. The current study sought to extend previous research on RDT by evaluating whether differences exist between coherent and non-coherent relational classes when both classes are exposed to coherence training. Coherent and non-coherent relational classes were established with participants using a Stimulus Pairing Observation Procedure. The Multidimensional Scaling Procedure was administered prior to and following coherence training to obtain a quantitative measure of distance between relational classes which were modeled geometrically. Overall, the results show that both the coherent and non-coherent relational classes showed changes in geometric space following coherence training, however, the coherent relational class showed less fractionation than the non-coherent relational class. This finding supports previous research which suggests coherence is likely a variable that influences the self-organization of relational class development. Implications and considerations of the findings are discussed.

Effects of Perspective-Taking and Values Consistency in Reducing Implicit Racial Bias

CARMEN BECK (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Yors A. Garcia (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Robyn Catagnus (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Luis Manuel Silva (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana)

The current study investigated the effect of perspective taking and values consistency tasks on implicit racial bias. Using a?repeated measures design with control group, 39 participants who identified as White were administered the IRAP. All participants in both groups completed the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ), the Modified Modern Racism Scales (MMRS), and Likert scale and the Valuing Questionnaire (VQ).?Experimental group participants completed brief values consistency and perspective taking tasks. The IRAP effect was demonstrated favoring pro-White bias. A statistically significant impact for interaction between condition and trial type was found for the Consistent-White trial type. A statistically significant difference was also found between the control and experimental group for the Inconsistent Black trial type. Recommendations for future research are presented.?

Relational Frame Theory and Neurology: Eye Tracking, EEG and fMRI
ZHIHUI YI (Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago), Mark R. Dixon (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Abstract: Translational studies incorporating advanced physiological measures offer many unique benefits. Besides focusing on measurable activities occurring in the organism that are related to environmental change, development in neuroimaging and other techniques allow the observation and analysis of the behavior “within the skin.” Eventually, such advancements present a deeper understanding of their physiological processes. This type of study also has the potential of disseminating behavior analytic accounts of human behavior and intelligence to a broader scientific community. Here we present preliminary findings on Relational Frame Theory (RFT) and neurology, where we explore several interesting neurological phenomena, including differences in eye gaze patterns using eye-tracking, differences in event-related potentials (ERPs) using electroencephalography (EEG), and differences in activation levels of specific brain areas measured by the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) when engaging in derived relational responding. Overall, our results show that relational framing may involve unique neurological activities. Implications for incorporating biomarkers in behavior analytic research, basic and applied, are discussed.

Selecting the Walk and Talk of Behavior Analysts: An Analysis of the Field’s Preparation in Carrying Out Research and Practice in Derived Stimulus Relations

ALBERT MALKIN (Southern Illinois University / Western University), Eric Jacobs (Southern Illinois University)

To broadly predict and influence human behavior, behavior analysts must have competence in ostensibly unique human behavior – verbal behavior. At this time, Relational Frame Theory (RFT), a contemporary theory of verbal behavior, is not an explicitly required area of instruction for board certified behavior analysts (BCBA). Consequently, practice in the field may not be fully informed by RFT and related content areas and, reciprocally, the field may not be capitalizing on opportunities for translational research that would extend the generality of RFT and conceptually related research areas. As an initial step in promoting the use of RFT and derived stimulus relations in practice, we sought to characterize the current state of knowledge of these content areas among BCBAs. Original data related to the acceptability and prevalence of training in RFT and complex discriminative control of behavior will be presented and discussed. Specifically, we conducted a survey of BCBAs (n=127) to determine their (1) perceptions of RFT and Equivalence-Based Instruction (EBI), (2) educational experiences and knowledge of these content areas, and (3) barriers to carrying out derived stimulus relations research and practice. Results indicate that both RFT and EBI are mostly acceptable and perceived to be within the scope of behavior analysis. Results, however, also indicate a gap related to knowledge of and competence in carrying out EBI and RFT research and practice. Cultural variables within behavior analysis that may influence the preparedness of researchers and practitioners to influence large scale behavior change will be examined.




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