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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #26
International Symposium - Exploring Anxiety: Avoidance and Expectancy Bias
Saturday, May 24, 2008
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Chicago & Alton
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Sinead Smyth (University of Ulster, Coleraine)

The current symposium consists of four empirical papers that explore various analogue models of anxiety. The first paper sought to examine the issue of expectancy bias in irrational fear through two experiments which used self-reported expectancy to test for derived relational responding. The second paper comprised two experiments designed to examine approach-avoidance conflict in a group of adult subjects. The third paper used an extinction procedure, and subsequently an ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) protocol to reduce laboratory induced avoidance. The final paper sought to demonstrate the transformation of aversive respondent elicitation in accordance with sameness relations. The findings of all four papers have implications for understanding human fear and anxiety.

Using Self-reported Expectancy Functions to Test for Derived Relational Responding: Modeling Expectancy Bias in Irrational Fear.
SINEAD SMYTH (University of Ulster, Coleraine), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: Despite the increasingly popular notion that derived relational responding and the derived transfer of functions through such relations may illustrate symbolic control (e.g. Hayes et al., 2001), very little research has been done using verbal tests of derived responding. Of the existing research, common procedures include post-hoc self-report measures and talk aloud procedures, both of which have been used to investigate the processes underlying derived responding on a matching-to-sample MTS equivalence test. The current paper presents a research program that set out to develop experimental procedures for the investigation of the derived transfer of self-reported expectancy functions. Rather than MTS, a stimulus presentation observation procedure (SPOP) was used to train symmetry (Experiment 1) and equivalence (Experiment 2) relations. The viability of the procedure as a behavior analytic model of expectancy bias in phobic responding, and the possible extension of the project using EEG measures will be discussed.
The Approach-Avoidance Conflict: Examining an Empirical Model of Human Anxiety and Phobia.
STEVEN ROBERT GANNON (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), John P. Forsyth (University at Albany, State University of New York), Jonathan W. Kanter (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Conor Linehan (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: The current paper reports on two experiments designed to examine the approach-avoidance conflict in a group of normal adult subjects. The first experiment involved establishing each of two distinct members of the same one-node equivalence relation as a discriminative stimulus for approach and avoidance responses, respectively. During a probe phase, subjects were presented with equivalence class members that were of equal nodal distance from each of the discriminative stimuli. Approach and avoidance responses during this probe phase were highly varied across subjects. A second experiment addressed several procedural artifacts, but yielded similar outcomes. These findings have implications for our understanding of the development of approach-avoidance conflicts in the world outside the laboratory, and raise several interesting and important questions regarding the sources of control over individual subject’s responses during the probe trials.
The Effect of Several Strategies in Altering Avoidance to Direct and Derived Avoidance Stimuli.
CARMEN LUCIANO SORIANO (Universidad de Almeria, Spain), Sonsoles Valdivia-Salas (Universidad de Almeria, Spain), Francisco Jose Ruiz-Jimenez (Universidad de Almeria, Spain), Francisco Cabello Luque (Universidad de la Rioja), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Michael J. Dougher (University of New Mexico), Miguel Rodriguez-Valverde (Universidad de Jaén, Spain), Olga Gutierrez Martinez (Universidad de Granada)
Abstract: This study comprises two parts. The first one addresses the transfer of respondent and avoidance functions, and of the extinction of the previous functions by relational means. Seventeen adults participated. In the first phase, two 6-members equivalence classes (A1 to F1; A2 to F2) were trained. Then, A1 and B1 were aversively conditioned, and A2 and B2 positively conditioned. Subsequently, participants were taught both to avoid the shocks and to gain points. Once transfer of the respondent and the avoidance response had occurred, the A1 and B1 stimuli were repeatedly presented under extinction, and then a new transfer test was run to assess the effects of the respondent extinction on the avoidance and respondent responses. Results showed that extinction had little effect on altering the avoidance response. In the second part, a strategy different to respondent extinction was promoted to alter the avoidance response. Ten participants were assigned to each of the two conditions. In the experimental condition, an ACT-based protocol focusing in the value of not avoiding, and defusion was implemented. In the control condition no protocol was implemented. Results showed a clear effect of the ACT-based protocol in altering avoidance to both direct and derived aversive stimuli.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh