(I Think) You Are Pretty: a Behavior Analytic Conceptualization of Flirtation

Abstract

Much research in flirtation has been approached from a socio-cognitive perspective and has overemphasized subjective self-reports rather than overt behavior. Existing work pertinent to flirtation is reviewed here in addition to proposing a behavior-analytic perspective on the topic with a conception that includes both rule-governed and contingency-shaped behavior. Of particular interest within a verbal behavior conception of flirtation is the importance of autoclitics—features of a verbal response that affect the listener’s reaction to the rest of the verbal response. Applications of a behavior analytic conception of flirtation and future directions relevant to research on interpersonal relationships are discussed.


Tue, 5 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm


The Power of Narratives Derives from Evoked Behavior

Abstract

The power of stories derives, not from the verbal stimuli themselves, but from the interaction of such stimuli with the on-going idiosyncratic behavior of the listener. This interaction produces behavioral effects that go far beyond what might be expected from a consideration of the narrative as an arrangement of verbal stimuli.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm



Narrative: Its Importance in Modern Behavior Analysis and Therapy

Abstract

The current article considers how the analysis of language and cognition in RFT may be conceptualized as a multi-dimensional multi-level framework (MDML) for understanding how simple units of analysis specified in RFT connect to more complex units, such as the relating of relational networks, which is seen as critical to narrative and story-telling. A brief outline of the framework is used to illustrate the importance of narrative in the treatment of human psychological suffering. In addition, the development of the concepts of verbal functional analysis and the drill-down are presented as examples of how the therapeutic relationship itself can be understood through the lens of the MDML and RFT more generally.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm


Suing for Peace in the War Against Mentalism

Abstract

The antimentalists’ war against mentalism has not vanquished it. To examine why, we focus on two theses—mind as causal and internal—and three standard attacks against mentalism as defined by both theses: 1) mentalism implies dualism; 2) mind is unobservable, which hinders its scientific study; and 3) mentalism is impractical. These salients fail because: 1) if the mind is causal and internal, it must be material; 2) the observable/unobservable distinction is too problematic, with antimentalists equivocal about where to draw that line, with some even embracing publicly unobservable behavior as causally relevant; and 3) mentalism has not been demonstrated to be less practical than antimentalism. For the war on mentalism to succeed, stronger attacks must be devised, both scientific and philosophical. We contemplate some possibilities, while expressing doubts as to the wisdom of continuing the war. Peace may be better than war, and the resulting intellectual commerce may be good for both sides.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm


The “Reproducibility Crisis:” Might the Methods Used Frequently in Behavior-Analysis Research Help?

Abstract

Mainstream biomedical and behavioral sciences are facing what has been dubbed “the reproducibility crisis.” The crisis is borne out of failures to replicate the results of published research at an average rate of somewhere near 50%. In this paper I make a case that the prime culprit leading to this unsatisfactory state of affairs has been the widespread use of p-values from tests of statistical significance as a criterion for publication. Even though it has been known, and made public, for decades that p-values provide no quantitative information about the likelihood that experimental results are likely to be repeatable, they remain a fundamental criterion for publication. A growing realization among researchers that p-values do not provide information that bears on repeatability may offer an opportunity for wider application of research methods frequently used in the research specialty known as Behavior Analysis, as well as a few other research traditions. These alternative approaches are founded on within- and between-participant replication as integral parts of research designs. The erosion of public confidence in science, which is bolstered by the reproducibility crisis, is a serious threat. Anything that the field of Behavior Analysis can offer as assistance in ameliorating the problem should be welcomed.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm



Bernard Weiss 1925–2018

Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


Behavior Science Emerges

Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm





A Functional-Cognitive Framework for Cooperation Between Functional and Cognitive Researchers in the Context of Stimulus Relations Research

Abstract

Contrary to the view that behavior analysis and cognitive psychology are two competing, mutually exclusive approaches in psychology, the functional-cognitive framework for research in psychology postulates that these approaches operate at different but related levels of explanation and therefore can interact in mutually beneficial ways. I briefly describe the framework and explore how it can be applied to research on stimulus relations.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


Related to Anxiety: Arbitrarily Applicable Relational Responding and Experimental Psychopathology Research on Fear and Avoidance

Abstract

Humans have an unparalleled ability to engage in arbitrarily applicable relational responding (AARR). One of the consequences of this ability to spontaneously combine and relate events from the past, present, and future may, in fact, be a propensity to suffer. For instance, maladaptive fear and avoidance of remote or derived threats may actually perpetuate anxiety. In this narrative review, we consider contemporary AARR research on fear and avoidance as it relates to anxiety. We first describe laboratory-based research on the emergent spread of fear- and avoidance-eliciting functions in humans. Next, we consider the validity of AARR research on fear and avoidance and address the therapeutic implications of the work. Finally, we outline challenges and opportunities for a greater synthesis between behavior analysis research on AARR and experimental psychopathology.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


Derived Stimulus Relations and Their Role in a Behavior-Analytic Account of Human Language and Cognition

Abstract

This article describes how the study of derived stimulus relations has provided the basis for a behavior–analytic approach to the study of human language and cognition in purely functional–analytic terms, with a focus on basic rather than applied research. The article begins with a brief history of the early behavior–analytic approach to human language and cognition, focusing on Skinner’s (1957) text Verbal Behavior, his subsequent introduction of the concept of instructional control (Skinner, 1966), and Sidman’s (1994) seminal research on stimulus equivalence relations. The article then considers how the concept of derived stimulus relations, as conceptualized within relational frame theory (Hayes et al., 2001), allowed researchers to refine and extend the functional approach to language and cognition in multiple ways. Finally, the article considers some recent conceptual and empirical developments that highlight how the concept of derived stimulus relations continues to play a key role in the behavior–analytic study of human language and cognition, particularly implicit cognition. In general, the article aims to provide a particular perspective on how the study of derived stimulus relations has facilitated and enhanced the behavior analysis of human language and cognition, particularly over the past 25–30 years.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm



Meaningful Stimuli and the Enhancement of Equivalence Class Formation

Abstract

Stimulus meaningfulness has been defined by its hedonic valence, denotative (definitional) and connotative (evaluative) properties, and its influence on forming categories called equivalence classes. Positive or negative hedonic value of a meaningful stimulus transfers to the other members of an equivalence class that contains such a stimulus, and also influences likelihood of class formation. The denotative and connotative properties of meaningful stimuli are instantiated by the responses they produced (simple discriminative functions) and by the selection of other related words (conditional discriminative functions). If a meaningless cue acquires one such stimulus control function, and is included in a set of otherwise meaningless stimuli, its inclusion enhances the formation of an equivalence class. These results suggest ways to enhance equivalence class formation in applied settings. When degree of enhancement matches that produced by the inclusion of a meaningful stimulus in a class, class enhancement can be accounted for by the stimulus control functions it serves, as well as its hedonic, denotative, and connotative properties. We also linked equivalence class formation and meaningfulness to semantic networks, relational frame theory, verbal behavior, and naming.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


Development of Communication in Infants: Implications for Stimulus Relations Research

Abstract

Early forms of stimulus–response relations are learned by infants to communicate with caregivers. The infant communication abilities begin with the learning of eye gazing, joint attention, social referencing, and naming, among others. Learning to engage in these early communication skills facilitates the development of more advanced phenomena seen in equivalence class formations and derived relational responding research. This article discusses evidence of early communication skills that are often required for the emergence of other, more complex forms of stimulus–stimulus relations. We emphasize the importance of establishing these types of operants early in infancy and their implications for developmental research on stimulus relations.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


The Emergence of Stimulus Relations: Human and Computer Learning

Abstract

Traditionally, investigations in the area of stimulus equivalence have employed humans as experimental participants. Recently, however, artificial neural network models (often referred to as connectionist models [CMs]) have been developed to simulate performances seen among human participants when training various types of stimulus relations. Two types of neural network models have shown particular promise in recent years. RELNET has demonstrated its capacity to approximate human acquisition of stimulus relations using simulated matching-to-sample (MTS) procedures (e.g., Lyddy & Barnes-Holmes Journal of Speech and Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 14–24, 2007). Other newly developed connectionist algorithms train stimulus relations by way of compound stimuli (e.g., Tovar & Chavez The Psychological Record, 62, 747–762, 2012; Vernucio & Debert The Psychological Record, 66, 439–449, 2016). What makes all of these CMs interesting to many behavioral researchers is their apparent ability to simulate the acquisition of diversified stimulus relations as an analogue to human learning; that is, neural networks learn over a series of training epochs such that these models become capable of deriving novel or untrained stimulus relations. With the goal of explaining these quickly evolving approaches to practical and experimental endeavors in behavior analysis, we offer an overview of existing CMs as they apply to behavior–analytic theory and practice. We provide a brief overview of derived stimulus relations as applied to human academic remediation, and we argue that human and simulated human investigations have symbiotic experimental potential. Additionally, we provide a working example of a neural network referred to as emergent virtual analytics (EVA). This model demonstrates a process by which artificial neural networks can be employed by behavior–analytic researchers to understand, simulate, and predict derived stimulus relations made by human participants.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


Abstraction, Multiple Exemplar Training and the Search for Derived Stimulus Relations in Animals

Abstract

Symmetry and other derived stimulus relations are readily demonstrated in humans in a variety of experimental preparations. Comparable emergent relations are more difficult to obtain in other animal species and seem to require certain specialized conditions of training and testing. This article examines some of these conditions with an emphasis on what animal research may be able to tell us about the nature and origins of derived stimulus relations. We focus on two areas that seem most promising: 1) research generated by Urcuioli’s (2008) theory of the conditions necessary to produce symmetry in pigeons, and 2) research that explores the effects of multiple exemplar training on emergent relations. Urcuioli’s theory has successfully predicted emergent relations in pigeons by taking into account their apparent difficulty in abstracting the nominal training stimulus from other stimulus properties such as location and temporal position. Further, whereas multiple exemplar training in non-humans has not consistently yielded arbitrarily-applicable relational responding, there is a growing body of literature showing that it does result in abstracted same-different responding. Our review suggests that although emergent stimulus relations demonstrated in non-humans at present have not yet shown the flexibility or generativity apparent in humans, the research strategies reviewed here provide techniques that may permit the analysis of the origins of derived relational responding.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm