Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition


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Relational frame theory:A post-skinnerian account of human language and cognition. Steven Hayes. The language of the task. Psychological Development. In attempting to describe and explain human development, behavioral psychologists generally argue that developmental consistencies are the product of relatively stable environ-mental contingencies supporting increasingly complex behaviors In attempting to describe and explain human development, behavioral psychologists generally argue that developmental consistencies are the product of relatively stable environ-mental contingencies supporting increasingly complex behaviors Gewirtz and Pelaez-Nogueras, Using behavior-analytic implicit tests to assess sexual interests among normal and sex-offender populations.

The development of implicit tests for measuring biases and behavioral predispositions is a recent development within psychology. While such tests are usually researched within a social-cognitive paradigm, behavioral researchers have also While such tests are usually researched within a social-cognitive paradigm, behavioral researchers have also begun to view these tests as potential tests of conditioning histories, including in the sexual domain.

The objective of this paper is to illustrate the utility of a behavioral approach to implicit testing and means by which implicit tests can be built to the standards of behavioral psychologists. Research findings illustrating the short history of implicit testing within the experimental analysis of behavior are reviewed. Relevant parallel and overlapping research findings from the field of social cognition and on the Implicit Association Test are also outlined. New preliminary data obtained with both normal and sex offender populations are described in order to illustrate how behavior-analytically conceived implicit tests may have potential as inv Anthony O'Reilly.

Understanding and Verbal Regulation. In the previous chapter we argued that the most important adaptive function of pragmatic verbal analysis is the construction of verbal formulae that allow functions of the environment to be augmented or diminished, for possible outcomes In the previous chapter we argued that the most important adaptive function of pragmatic verbal analysis is the construction of verbal formulae that allow functions of the environment to be augmented or diminished, for possible outcomes to be detected, and for lengthy behavioral sequences to be performed with regard to possible consequences.

According to RFT, this process of verbal understanding and verbal regulation involves the effects of relational networks and pragmatic verbal analysis. In this chapter we will unpack the RFT The current study attempted to capture in real time the unfolding of the relational operant using electroencephalography EEG and reaction time measures.

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Later in his commentary language abilities but years of experience with Salzinger also suggests that rule-governed be- MTS procedures. Finally, a current research havior and formal logic may provide an alter- project in the second author's lab has obtained native explanation for derived relational re- good evidence for equivalence responding in sponding. In our view, these cannot be consid- a mute autistic child but with an extensive his- ered viable alternatives to RFT. These Listing the formal attributes of verbal behav- types of findings clearly suggest that derived ior may be a useful exercise early in a research relational responding at least simple forms program, but such a list will never provide the may occur in the absence of an expressive vo- technical or functional-analytic definition of cal repertoire.

Insofar as Malott's chaining ac- verbal behavior that we have sought to develop count requires such a repertoire, his mediational in RFT. If we are to use the term verbal in a explanation for symmetry and transitivity technical sense in behavior analysis, we need seems untenable. The list Salzinger pro- counts of stimulus equivalence have also been vides, like the definition by Hockett, may help around since the 's, and they failed.

Re- tional-analytic definition or analysis. In the cently, Tonneau has argued that we book we are precise in our definition of verbal should give the mediational concepts of Pav- behavior: lovian conditioning another go, but he also points out that his Pavlovian approach to any- Relational frame theory takes the position that thing beyond the most simple transfer perfor- derived stimulus relations constitute the core mances will be too complex to yield to experi- of verbal behavior.

Verbal behavior is the ac- mental analysis p. Both speak- It may be possible to construct a mediational ers and listeners engage in verbal behavior. However, no produces sequences of stimuli as a result, the one has done it yet in over a century of media- speaker is engaging in verbal behavior. In more tional theorizing. If someone does, we will see lay terms, we say that the speaker is speaking with meaning.

If the same formal stimuli are if it moves behavior analysis significantly produced but not because the speaker has closer to the goals of prediction-and-influence framed events relationally e. Only is involved. Verbal meaning, in this approach, this outcome will decide which is the best op- is not a mental event, nor an inference, nor a tion to take-the RFT approach or some me- simple effect.

Nevertheless, we also believe that it is behaviorally nonsensical to argue that non- Salzinger and others may not agree with the functionally defined concepts, such as rules and RFT functional-analytic definition of verbal logic, can be used to explain the functionally behavior, but in so doing it is incumbent upon defined concepts of RFT. Doing so is like ar- them to provide an alternative functional defi- guing that the concept of the operant should nition-providing a list of formal characteris- be explained using the lay concepts of inten- tics will not suffice.

Appealing to rule-governed behavior or for- mal logic as possible alternatives to RFT falls victim to the same problem. Both of these con- SUMMARY cepts do not have clear functional-analytic defi- nitions, and thus they cannot be used as the basis for a behavior-analytic explanation. In As we looked over the various alternative short, rule-governance and formal logic them- accounts it became apparent that none of them selves require explanation, and it was for this attempt to cover the entire domain of human reason that we subjected them to RFT analy- language and cognition.

Even Sidman's treat- ses in the book. Once again, we were relatively ment of equivalence relations, which is now precise in our functional-analytic treatments of over thirty years old, is still focused almost these concepts. With respect to rule-governed exclusively on one particular derived relation behavior we suggested the following: and seems to have moved progressively fur- ther away from where it started-a functional In RFT there is a clear difference between non- analysis of human symbolic control Barnes- verbal and verbal regulation. Other pos- havior is a subset of verbal regulation.

RFT Basics: Language and Cognition from an RFT Perspective

The term sible alternatives, such as Malott's and becomes more likely to be used when the ver- Tonneau's chaining and mediational accounts, bal antecedent is a relational network or a com- are likewise limited in their foci and have their parison of such networks, and especially when historical roots in analyses that have not comparison between a verbal antecedent and worked very well empirically or conceptually. Rule-governance is also more likely to be Sidman's, have a robust research program used when the non-arbitrary features of the linked to them.

And the remaining alternatives, environment are abstracted and transformed, which appeal to formal definitions of verbal and when the verbal network is generally ap- behavior and to the concepts ofrules and logic, plicable p. In contrast, RFT has And with respect to logic, we argued as fol- made significant progress, both conceptually lows: and empirically, in tackling human language and cognition from a purely functional-analytic Logic, from an RFT perspective, is in essence perspective.

One direc- transformation of function in accordance with tion for future research could involve devel- multiple stimulus relations. Although specific oping another viable and data-driven functional examples of relational framing may sometimes account that attempts to grapple with the broad appear logical e.

We would does not provide an explanation for relational welcome any genuine attempt to step up to this framing.

Relational Frame Theory. a Post-skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition

Instead, it is RFT that provides the challenge, which we believe would be an ex- basis for a behavioral explanation of logical tremely healthy sign for our field. Because these are forcing function i. Furthermore, in the in- understandable, particularly the transformation terests of brevity, in general we will not pro- of function, because it seems to impact upon vide direct quotations from the commentators, every other known behavioral principle, and but simply identify the relevant individual s thus RFT is revolutionary in this sense and page number s from which the point was Spradlin.

For example, a respondently con- derived. It is for this rea- Salzinger. Relational frame theory reserves the son, we suspect, that McIlvane, following a term contextual cue for those stimuli that con- similar line of thinking to that ofMalott's chain- trol bring to bear a history of arbitrarily ap- ing example, suggests that transformation of plicable relational responding. We use the term function may parallel "the concepts of behav- contextual cue, rather than discriminative ioral resurgence, spontaneous interconnection stimulus because; 1 it brings to bear a spe- of repertoires, and other similar phenomena" cific history of relational responding, and thus p.

From this perspective, the transforma- the relational response cannot be traced directly tion of function, to be readily understood, to the physical properties of the stimuli, and should be broken down into smaller or more 2 a contextual cue can itself acquire its con- traditional analytic units. Of course, any be- trolling properties via relational framing, and havioral researcher is free to engage in this in- thus it does not fit the standard definition of a terpretive exercise although we note that no discriminative stimulus see pp.

In RFT, the transformation of func- and utility of RFT is derived, in large part, from tion is the result of an overarching history of the way in which it reconceptualises the ana- arbitrarily applicable relational responding, and lytic units of operant psychology for the treat- this effect does not seem to fit with any of the ment of human language and cognition. If oth- traditional technical concepts in behavior ers feel that the concept of transformation of analysis. If three stimuli, A, B, C, participate function is too molar or descriptive e. Many of the core concepts C stimuli have been transformed in accordance in behavior analysis have extended histories with the mutually and combinatorially entailed of conceptual and empirical research attached relations.

The term transformation denotes that to them with certain key issues remaining un- the previously "neutral" functions ofthe B and resolved, and as Mcllvane correctly points out C stimuli have been changed or altered in a stimulus generalization is one of these. How- specific way based on an extended history of ever, the same could be said for so many other arbitrarily applicable relational responding, concepts, too, including the very definition of rather than through direct training, primary operant versus respondent behaviors e.

To engage ing, and the like. For example, in the ten that behavior analysis even exists p. In the book we provide behavior in which relational framing is com- a number of common-sense examples of rela- pletely absent.

Relational frame theory: a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition.

Where the boundaries lie and tional networks i. In fact, the talk The purpose of these examples was to illus- of boundaries might be misleading. It may be trate to the non-behavioral reader that the net- more useful and accurate to talk of degrees of works typically found in derived relations stud- "verbalness" in any given human action, rather ies could well provide a valid model of the than discrete categories of verbal versus non- types of relational networks found in natural verbal behavior. This would certainly be in language e.

To the average de- keeping with RFT's contextualistic and devel- rived stimulus relations researcher these ex- opmental focus p Indeed, we gave explicit examples to lence rather than a theory of human language the contrary p. To make such a claim and cognition. For example, Mcllvane states: would undermine the RFT definition of verbal behavior itself p.

From in RFT:ALC, Home and Lowe's article, and the RFT perspective, it is almost certain that as Sidman's book, one would expect there a history of relational framing increases, it will to have already published a comprehensive, predominate in the human behavioral reper- detailed treatment of theories of stimulus toire. In fact, many religions, some therapies, equivalence and related phenomenon.

For Spradlin devoted much of his review to com- RFT, therefore, humans can engage in both paring and contrasting Sidman's book verbal and non-verbal behavior, although ex- with the current volume although he clearly cessive levels of the former may be the basis recognizes the different implications arising for a wide range of psychological problems.

It from the two works , and Salzinger compared should also be noted, however, that there are Sidman's bag analogy for equivalence classes subtleties in distinguishing between verbal and with the RFT concept of the relational response. First, we don't tories of some of the commentators two of agree that the Barnes, et al.


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The one child who failed to demon- equivalence. Nevertheless, some of the criti- strate equivalence also failed to demonstrate cisms voiced by the commentators can be symmetry between her expressive and recep- traced to their thinking of RFT as a theory of tive repertoires-the other children who passed stimulus equivalence, and thus in our view the equivalence test possessed both of these these comments seem off target. For example, repertoires. Second, we are not sure if this ques- both Mcllvane and Osborne bemoan the lack tion is an extension of comments Mcllvane and of engagement with, and references pertaining co-authors previously made Carr et al.

In the Preface to the book, how- were unusual, or if Mcllvane is speaking about ever, we pointed out that the "scholarly engage- the RFT-relevant testing findings from that ment" material could be found in various other study. If the former, we would note only what RFT articles, some of which contain detailed Carr et al. RFT approach to this area. Some of this work Many of the arcane and abstruse "in-house" is described briefly in the book p. The only currently published study the relevant pre-experimental histories of this type was conducted in the RFT lab at Mcllvane; see also Spradlin.

In very small part of RFT. Even ifthe equivalence our view, however, the true test ofthe approach research community manages one day to work is whether or not it leads to greater prediction- out whether or not equivalence is a behavioral and-influence across the entire domain of hu- primitive, we will need to understand how this man language and cognition.

Human infant single behavioral repertoire feeds into the vast studies are only a small part of the research universe of human language and cognition. It agenda being pursued. In fact, from not very important question has been answered the language-and-cognition focused perspec- before moving onto important areas of inquiry. For example, citizens.

Some ofthe comments seem more concerned Interestingly, none of the commentators try with past identity than in assessing the chal- to show that the implications we see for spe- lenge of RFT per se, and particular commenta- cific Skinnerian concepts are incorrect. To the tors react strongly to the "post-Skinnerian" la- extent that the challenge is met, it takes the form bel we attach to Relational Frame Theory.

For ofsuggesting that other concepts might account example, Osbourne says "As much as the au- for some small part of relational learning e. However, none selves from Skinner-witness their subtitle- of the authors argue that these alternatives there are interesting parallels that they cannot could account for the range of RFT data al- avoid" p.

Osboume and others spend time ready produced. Furthermore, the commenta- arguing that RFT owes much to Skinner's tors sometimes seem to use traditional Skinne- work. The book was written by behavior ana- data were explained by them. Salzinger argues lysts. Fortunately, we were very precise erned behavior, for example, but since human about what we meant by the term "post-Skin- infants show derived relational responding nerian": e.

Calling it that is meant both to do rules-not a happy result for Skinner's account honor to a great intellect of the twentieth cen- of rule governance. A whole host of top- In considering the five commentaries to- ics that have been written about and studied gether, the following themes seem quite strong. Furthermore, there happened. For us, this book is such an event. The reviewers also recognise that RFT Based on what we actually say, there should is a behavioral account, and all ofthem pointed be no confusion about RFT as a "post-Skinne- to links with other areas of behavior analysis.

It is not an attempt to separate Mcllvane and Spradlin see considerable over- from Skinner, nor merely to note, as Osbourne lap with Sidman's work on equivalence classes, also suggests, that we are writing after Skin- Salzinger with rule-governed behavior, Malott ner is dead.

It is not "anti-Skinnerian" or "anti- with his work on linguisitic productivity, and behavioral" as one track of Salzinger's word Osborne sees RFT as a natural extension of associations lead to.

Spradlin has it right: the Skinner's work. We use the term the way in which the theory draws on the con- "post-Skinnerian" a to note that if RFT is cor- cept of the operant. Both Malott and Mcllvane, rect, many specific Skinnerian analyses related for instance, call for an account in terms ofba- to complex human behavior need to be redone, sic behavioral processes.

Behavior analysis will have unquestion- logic but does not attempt to explain either at a ably entered the "post-Skinnerian" era because, technical level. In contrast, Osborne seems sat- in effect, behavioral psychology will have to isfied with RFT as an operant account to such re-examine the impact of a wide variety of be- an extent that he argues that there really is noth- havioral processes in verbal organisms that ing very new here.

In every case, however there have hitherto provided the bedrock upon which is no attempt to deal directly with multiple our science is built. Stepping up to this chal- stimulus relations and the transformation of lenge is exactly what RFT attempts to do, but function that have been the centralfocus ofRFT stepping up to the challenge of these five ques- studies for the past 13 years.

When examples tions is something that the entire field of be- are given, such as that provided by Malott, or havior analysis can no longer comfortably the stimulus class definition provided by avoid.

diofladsundchuckfi.ga Osborne p. Barnes, D. Stimulus equivalence and We believe that it is telling that none of the relational frame theory. The Psychological reviewers attempted to provide a description, Record, 44, We have Equivalence class formation in non- been asking this question of our colleagues for hearing impaired and hearing impaired chil- some time now e. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 8, and few seem willing even to try, and then only For example, Barnes, D. Relational Tonneau mentions the issue in relation frame theory and stimulus equivalence are to his account and then admits that he believe fundamentally different: A reply to that the domain is too complex to yield to an Saunders.

The Psychological Record, 46, experimental analysis cast in his terms see Barnes-Holmes, D. If behavior analysis, as a field, is to face the Relational frame theory and the re- challenge that RFT presents, the following lational evaluation procedure: Approaching questions will need to be answered. Leslie and D. Blackman Eds. Tell us if something is incorrect. Add to Cart. Free delivery. Arrives by Wednesday, Oct 2.

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Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition
Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition
Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition
Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition
Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition
Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition
Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition
Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition Relational Frame Theory: A Post-Skinnerian Account of Human Language and Cognition

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