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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #427
CE Offered: BACB
Working within our World: Contextual Behavioral Science and Community Well-Being
Monday, May 26, 2014
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
W179a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Shiloh Eastin (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Discussant: Anthony Biglan (Oregon Research Institute)
CE Instructor: Shiloh Eastin, Ph.D.

Out in the world, we have the ability to observe how individuals abilities to adjust to the world around them either help or hinder positive movements in their life. One way to describe an individuals level of adjustment is in terms of psychological flexibility or the ability to allow painful thoughts and feelings be present in daily life experience without adverse effects on daily functioning. Flexibility has implications not only for individual well-being, however. Psychological flexibility as individual adjustment has broad reaching implications at the level of the community, The papers in this symposium will explore the impact psychological flexibility has on community well-being. The first paper considers inflexibility among the previously incarcerated and evaluates inflexibility as a predictor of criminal recidivism. The second paper will examine how psychological flexibility influences bystander efficacy and rape-myth acceptance on a college campus. The third paper will considers how psychological flexibility interacts with attitudes about sex to influence sexual behaviors over a two week period. The fourth paper explores the mediating effect that experiential avoidance, one aspect of psychological inflexibility, has between psychological distress and emotional abuse. The discussion on this symposium will explore how interventions focusing on psychological flexibility may play a role in the improvement and development of community programs.

Keyword(s): community well-being, psychological flexibility

Back to Life: Psychological Inflexibility and Recidivism among Criminal Offenders

RUSSELL ANDERSON (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Madison Gamble (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Michelle Jeanis (University of South Florida ), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Psychological flexibility is the ability to experience the self, the world, and others fully, and take action toward chosen values regardless of the nature of those experiences. In contrast, psychological inflexibility involves rigidity and avoidance in the way an individual copes with challenging experiences and maintains action in his or her life. Psychological flexibility focused models have been shown to be successful in alleviating numerous adverse behaviors and may offer a means of conceptualizing and intervening on criminal recidivism or reoffending, a primary target in correctional settings. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate psychological inflexibility among those who criminally reoffend psychological inflexibility as a predictor of recidivism over a six month period. People who were recently released from incarceration completed a demographic questionnaire, and three separate questionnaires respectively measuring psychological inflexibility (i.e., Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II), cognitive fusion (i.e., CFQ), and likelihood of recidivism (i.e., Self-Appraisal Questionnaire).Psychological inflexibility and cognitive fusion were examined, not only as independent predictors of criminal behavior and recidivism, but also as moderators of other factors of recidivism risk. Preliminary results an important role for flexibility in predicting criminal behavior. Implications for rehabilitation and re-entry interventions will be discussed.


So What Can You Do?: Psychological Flexibility, Attitudes about Sexual Violence, and Bystander Behaviors

SHILOH EASTIN (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Amy Brown (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Recently society has begun to take greater action both in spreading awareness and attempting to prevent violence against women. Sexually assaulted women, in particular stand to benefit from heightened awareness within communities of sexual violence as an issue as sexual violence often is the least discussed. Although awareness of sexual violence has increased significantly over the past years, prevention of sexual violence has not seen a corresponding decrease in occurrence. Recently, colleges have been attempting to educate and empower bystanders to confront the problem of sexual violence. Interventions aimed at bystanders benefit from a larger audience and fewer psychological barriers than interventions aimed at potential perpetrators and victims. Although these programs have promising results, there is limited research in the area. Psychological flexibility, or the ability to notice and respond to constant changes in experience with consistent, effective action towards chosen values, is one variable that has not previously been examined in conjunction with bystander attitudes or behaviors. Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette completed a series of questionnaires that assessed the participants psychological flexibility, rape myth acceptance, and bystander efficacy over a period of four weeks. Preliminary results suggest that flexibility may have an important role in bystander intervention. The relationships among psychological flexibility, rape myth acceptance, reactions to a hypothetical rape victim, and bystander intervention will be discussed.


Feeling lucky?: Predicting Condom Use Behaviors from Implicit and Explicit Attitudes and Psychological Flexibility

JESSICA AUZENNE (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

College students engage in a variety of sexual behaviors with more partners than in the past, often without protection. Condoms are an easily accessible means of sexual protection, but they are often used inconsistently by college students (Murray & Miller, 2000). Although students are generally aware of the consequences of unprotected sex, this awareness does not strongly influence condom use (Prince & Bernard, 1998). Research has shown that attitudes about sex may be more influential on sexual behavior than knowledge about high risk behavior. Negative attitudes about condoms have been linked to the avoidance of condom use, but there have been inconclusive results regarding their ability to predict sexual behavior (Gabler et al., 2004). It may be that attitudes have differential effects on behavior, depending on how students cope with uncomfortable experiences. For example, no prior studies have examined students flexibility with these attitudes. This study will measure students psychological flexibility interact with attitudes regarding condom use to determine whether or not these variables can be used to predict students condom use behavior in the following 2 weeks. Pilot results suggest that inflexibility with discomfort around sex may keep knowledge and attitudes from translating into safer sexual behavior. The implications for community-based intervention on high risk sexual behavior will be discussed.


Sticks, Stones, and Words Hurt: The Role Experiential Avoidance Plays in Emotional Abuse

TERESA HULSEY (University of North Texas), Ethan Lester (University of North Texas), Kristi Mannon (University of North Texas), Amy Murrell (University of North Texas), Christina M. Larson (University of North Texas)

Emotional abuse is common among college students and has major effects on wellbeing (OHearn & Davis, 1997; Pipes & LeBov-Keeler, 1997). To inform prevention and intervention efforts, more research is needed. Research on other trauma indicates that experiential avoidance (EA) plays an important role in psychopathology (Boeschen, Koss, Figueredo, & Coan, 2001). Thus, it was hypothesized that EA would change the impact of emotional abuse. Undergraduates (N = 97) at the University of North Texas completed a survey including questions about emotional abuse, experiential avoidance, and psychological distress. A mediation analysis was performed using the Baron and Kenny (1986) method to examine if EA was a mediator between severity of emotional abuse and psychological distress. Data show EA was a mediator between emotional abuse and psychological distress. Emotional abuse significantly predicted psychological distress (B = .04, p < .01), emotional abuse significantly predicated EA (B = .05, p < .01), EA significantly predicted psychological distress (B = .53, p < .01), and when EA was added to the model, the relationship between emotional abuse and psychological distress was no longer significant (B = .01, p = .55). Implications of these findings on intervention and suggestions for future research will be discussed.




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