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

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Symposium #49
Derived Relational Responding in Experiential Avoidance and Parenting Stress
Saturday, May 24, 2008
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Boulevard C
Area: CBM/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Nicole Hernandez (University of North Texas)
Discussant: John Tanner Blackledge (Morehead State University)
Abstract: Relational Frame Theory (RFT) suggests that derived relational responding (DRR) is necessary for Experiential Avoidance (EA) to occur. Three studies designed to study the process of DRR in the context of distress ranging from parenting stress to anxiety and depression will be discussed. The first study will present data on how childhood behavior influences parenting stress and the formation of equivalence classes using a DRR task. The following two studies utilize the DRR task to demonstrate how EA is associated with different forms of distress.
Parenting Stress and Relational Frame Theory: Patterns of Learning.
ANDREW SCHERBARTH (University of North Texas), Jeffrey Geddes (University of North Texas), Vaishnavi Kapadia (University of North Texas), Amy Murrell (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Parenting difficulties contribute to parenting stress, which is related to higher rates of child maltreatment and less success of parents in child-behavior management programs (Dumas, 1984; Kazdin, 1997). Two studies were conducted using Relational Frame Theory (RFT); they utilized a derived relational responding (DRR) task to examine the role of parenting stress in stimulus control processes. The first compared women with differing levels of parenting stress using the DRR task. Results indicated that distressed mothers formed classes involving misbehavior words and neutral stimuli more quickly and accurately when compared to non-distressed mothers. Distressed mothers also had difficulty placing negative child behavior in the same context as positive parenting. The second study, currently in progress, extends the original research design to include more advanced controls. Data from this research suggests that distressed parents a) frame their child’s misbehavior with neutral stimuli more easily, and b) have difficultly associating the incongruous positive parenting and child misbehavior words into one frame. Implications for these findings suggest that parenting programs that make use of acceptance and mindfulness-based treatments to address contextual control may lead to more robust benefits than typical programs that ask parents to associate stimuli that are incongruent with their learning history.
Control Freak!: Experiential Avoidance Controls the Distressed Human’s Verbal Abilities.
AMANDA C. ADCOCK (University of North Texas), Kristin Juskiewicz (University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Nicole Hernandez (University of North Texas), P. Ryan Mitchell (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Relational Frame Theory (RFT) have pointed to Experiential Avoidance (EA) as the underlying cause or maintaining variable in psychopathology. Because of the presence of this process in a variety of psychological problems and the existence of several symptoms that are functionally defined as EA, a more thorough understanding of the basic processes involved are necessary. RFT posits that derived relational responding (DRR) is the basic process necessary for EA to occur. This study examined the relationships between DRR, EA, and distress. Data will be presented from a college sample of distressed individuals. A matching-to-sample-procedure (MTS) was used to examine the effects of distressing stimuli on participants’ ability to derive relations. When levels of EA were held constant, distressed individuals were significantly less rigid in their relational responding abilities. Thus, EA mediated the relationship between distress and derived relational responding when distressing content was present in the experimental procedure.
Transformers!: Modeling Experiential Avoidance, Verbal Processes and Psychopathology.
JONATHAN SCHMALZ (University of North Texas), Tiffani Allison (University of North Texas), Amanda C. Adcock (University of North Texas), Karen Michelle O'Brien (University of North Texas), Amy Murrell (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Relational Frame Theory (RFT) implicate experiential avoidance (EA) as the process that maintains psychopathology. More specifically, RFT posits that verbal behavior, or the ability to derive relations among stimuli and transform stimulus functions, results in EA. This presentation will present data from two projects that support these hypotheses. In both of these studies, college undergraduates were participants and measures of symptomology were collected. In both studies, EA was moderately to highly correlated with depressive symptomology. One study hypothesized that depression and EA would be predictive of strong derived relational responding ability. This study used an arbitrary derived relational responding (DRR) task. DRR was not correlated with EA and depression, thus the model could not be tested in this study. The second study utilized a non-arbitrary DRR task and found that participants higher in EA were more readily able to transform functions throughout classes of psychologically relevant stimuli. This was particularly true with personally relevant content. These studies when taken together, point to an important model to be studied in a single research design. A model that highlights the importance of the transformation of functions will be presented and discussed.



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