Date: August 2010
Creator: Madrigal-Bauguss, Jessica A.
Description: Behavior analysts who study verbal behavior theorize that people derive relationships between stimuli - forming stimulus classes such that psychological functions transfer among stimuli and therefore affect behavior. Verbal processes are thought to play a role in cancer patients' behavioral flexibility. The current study examined if an analogue intervention produced changes in relations between health-relevant stimuli from pre- to post-test in patient and student samples. A matching-to-sample (MTS) task required participants to form three 4-member classes that included health, treatment, or neutral terms. Participants next listened to either an acceptance-based or a control-based rationale and therapy exercise, or a distracter task. Then, they were re-exposed to the MTS task. Latencies and accuracies for learning each class as well as between condition differences were examined. Finally, changes in ratings of stimuli from pre to post analogues were measured. Differences in stimuli ratings were seen in the student sample, reflecting transfer of function and some reduction in responsiveness to stimuli following intervention, but overall no learning performances are found. Discussion explores the consistency of the findings with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) theory in light of the seemingly lack of findings.
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