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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #223
Humor Behavior, Time Perception, Hierarchical Categorization and Perspective Taking. A Functional Analysis Based on Relational Frame Theory
Sunday, May 28, 2023
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom B
Area: EAB/VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Francisco José Ruiz Jiménez (Fundación Universitaria Konrad Lorenz)
Discussant: Paolo Moderato (IULM & IESCUM)

Relational Frame Theory (RFT) is a functional-analytic approach to human language and cognition that allows to analyze complex humans’ behavior in which derived relational responding is involved. This symposium aims to analyze complex behaviors such as humor, time perception, hierarchical categorization and perspective taking following this approach. The first study analyzes the conditions under which hierarchical categorization is established in laboratory settings. The second study aims to describe and discuss the circumstances, historical and present, under which time is experience. The third study aims to use the IRAP methodology to measure the history of participants with experimental protocols involving humor behavior. Finally, the fourth study is focused on the effect on psychological flexibility of deictic framing established through exemplar training reading. The four studies are analyzed following an ideographic approach and will be discuss in the context of the experimental conditions in which these behaviors emerge.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): hierarchical categorization, Humor, RFT, Time perception

A Functional Approach to Hierarchical Responding

JORGE VILLARROEL VILLARROEL (University of Almeria), Carmen Luciano (University Almeria, Spain)

The response involved in grouping classes of stimuli (e.g., animals and plants) in higher order classes (e.g., living beings) is typically referred as hierarchical responding or hierarchical categorization. According to RFT, hierarchical responding is a type of arbitrary applicable relational responding involved in complex aspects of human behavior such as concept formation or abstract experience as the self. The aim of this study is to analyse the circumstances under which derived hierarchical responding is established. A total of 10 adults participated in this study, in the first phase two arbitrary stimuli were establish as relational cues: Sameness and Inclusion. In phase 2, two arbitrary networks were trained using this relational cue. In phase 3, functions were assigned to different stimuli of the two networks. Finally, all stimuli of the networks were tested for derived relations and transformation of functions and most of the participants showed a pattern consistent with hierarchical responding


CANCELLED: An Experimental Study on Time Perception and Emotion: Reasons for Conducting an Ideographic Analysis

JORGE VILLARROEL VILLARROEL (University of Almeria), Beatriz Harana (University of Almeria)

The studies conducted to date on time perception and emotion stand out for: the density and variability of their experimental conditions and nomothetic analyses of their results. Exploring this psychological event in behavior analysis – considering each individual's history – yields insights about the transformation of functions that occurs with the passage of time. Hence, this research aims to describe and discuss under which specific circumstances and historical individual background time "flies" or "slows down." Accordingly, we conducted two experimental conditions (3 intra-subject participants) with different time intervals: in condition 1, participants went through routine tasks with immediate unpleasant functions; in condition 2, the immediate unpleasant function linked to higher-order motivational functions (e.g., something important for the participant). The main measures included: the feeling of the passage of time (e.g., too slow or too fast), the emotional reaction during the task, and a brief questionnaire about past experiences. The data indicated a differential impact on the passage of time according to personal history and immediate/higher-order motivational functions.


Humor Behavior by Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP)

MATHEUS BEBBER (Université Paris-Nanterre)

Recent research on humor used protocols showing the roles of perspective framing and discomfort functions to alter the humor responses. However, the function that the protocols generated in interaction with the individual's personal history is unclear. The present study aimed to advance in this direction by designing a preliminary implicit relational assessment procedure (IRAP) to measure the personal history in interaction with the protocols applied before two jokes. Undergraduate students (N=8) were asked to complete an IRAP to assess the perspective-taking framing and the discomfort functions related to the joke's content. Results showed that the IRAP captured differences when the personal history (I-Joke with discomfort functions vs. Other-Joke with discomfort functions) is linked to the participants smiling or not at the joke. These findings corroborate the previous study, and it suggests that the IRAP as designed in this study, is a good indicator of the personal history of the humor response.


Life With Lloyd: A “Dose-Response” Effect on Psychological Flexibility and Mental Health of Reading Perspective-Taking Based Dialogues for 90 Days

NANNI PRESTI (Kore University), Valeria Portelli (Kore University), Antonella Rampello (Kore University), Silvia Cau (Kore University)

Ninety dialogues were administered in 90 days to volunteers participating via a web page to investigate if a rehearsal based on a leading metaphor and a role-exchange dialogue had effects on mental health in terms of acceptance, experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, depressive symptomatology and mindful attitude. Dialogues were taken from the books written by Simone Tempia, Life with Loyd series. A total of 311 participants were randomized with a 1:2 proportion either to the Lloyd group (n=132) or to the control group (n=179) who, instead, read dialogues from the famous Italian novel I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) by Alessandro Manzoni. Each day participants received an email with a link to a Google form, which included the paragraph with the dialogue followed by two questions: the first a comprehension question, to check for reading the paragraph, and the second perspective taking question. The following scales were administered at baseline and after 30, 60, 90 (end training) and 180 days: AAQ-II; CompACT; MAAS; CFQ-13; BDI-II; BAI; MHC-SF. Data show a reduction in levels of depression and anxiety of subjects who participated in at least 70% of the daily readings in Lloyd group as an effect of the metaphor and perspective taking exercises.




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