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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #339
Perspectives on Emotion
Monday, May 28, 2012
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
610 (Convention Center)
Area: TPC/DEV; Domain: Theory
Chair: Matthew Lewon (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Michael J. Dougher (University of New Mexico)
Abstract: Among events deemed to be private, emotions remain controversial and continue to be neglected within the field of behavior analysis. This symposium is intended to open the dialogue in this area, with each speaker and the discussant approaching the challenging topic of emotion from unique applied and theoretical perspectives.
Keyword(s): emotions, feelings, motivating operations, private events

The Use of Emotion in Therapy: Shaping Intimate Interpersonal Repertoires With Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP)

BARBARA S. KOHLENBERG (University of Nevada School of Medicine)

Shaping interpersonal, emotional, intimate behavior in others requires that the shaper be in contact with their own private emotional responses, as well as be able to express or amplify these responses in order to shape more effective interpersonal responding. The particular circumstance of an outpatient psychotherapy session provides many opportunities for the client to engage in emotionally intimate behavior that is amenable to shaping. The therapist, as a representative of the social/verbal community, will have private reactions to client behavior,that may guide the kind of consequences given. For example, a client crying may evoke feelings of compassion, tenderness and closeness in the therapist, and could also evoke irritation and impatience. It is likely that these two classes of reactions, occurring in session, are representative of what the client might evoke in others in their daily life. Thus, these private emotional therapist responses are essential stimuli that can be used to shape behavior in the client. This paper will consider the use of functional analytic psychotherapy to help examine how private emotional responses can be used to shape improvements in client intimate interpersonal functioning.


The Thrill is Gone: Anhedonia, Emotion, and Motivating Operations

MATTHEW LEWON (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, anhedonia is the decreased ability or inability to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable activities and is one of the characteristics used to diagnose major depressive disorders. It is often noted that depressed individuals lose interest in stimuli that serve as reinforcers for many nondepressed individuals. In extreme cases, even powerful unconditioned reinforcers such as food and sex can lose their reinforcing functions. Recently, behavior analysts have begun to examine the topic of emotion within the context of motivating operations (MOs)events that increase or decrease the effectiveness of particular stimuli as reinforcers or punishers. We believe that the phenomenon of anhedonia may be best analyzed and studied in the context of emotional MOs. This paper will provide a review of the literature on anhedonia, describe the MO concept as it pertains to emotion, and discuss the implications of emotional MOs in the treatment of depression.


Towards a Behavioral Interpretation of Emotion Regulation

ANN F. HAYNOS (University of Nevada, Reno), Alan E. Fruzzetti (University of Nevada, Reno)

Recently, interest in the topic of emotion regulation has dramatically increased within clinical psychology. Emotion regulation is referred to as a process by which an individual attempts to influence the incidence, intensity, or expression of emotion in service of long-term goals. Emotion regulation difficulties are suggested as relevant to various complex behavioral problems, including self-injury, substance use, and disordered eating. Despite widespread appeal of emotion regulation in applied psychology, this construct (and class of behavior) has remained unexamined by the behavioral community. This is likely due to controversy regarding how to address private events within a science of human behavior and the suggested implication that emotion regulation refers to emotional states mediating behavior, contradicting behavioral conceptualizations of private events as dependent, therefore noncausal, variables. However, consequences of excluding a behavior analytic perspective on this topic include a lack of precision in applied theories and interventions and inadvertent allocation of the study of emotion modulation to physiological domains, potentiating further mentalization of psychology. This paper will address how to approach the construct of emotion regulation behaviorally and will include an operant analysis of emotion, discussion of emotions as motivating operations, and examination of the role of verbal behavior in emotion modulation.




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