Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Exploring Differential Trial-Type Effects and the Impact of a Read-Aloud Procedure on Deictic Relational Responding on the IRAP

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Exploring Differential Trial-Type Effects and the Impact of a Read-Aloud Procedure on Deictic Relational Responding on the IRAP

Article excerpt

Since the seminal work of Sidman in the 1970s, behavior-analytic researchers have developed increasingly complex accounts of human language and cognition in terms of derived stimulus relations. A particularly rich vein of research in this regard is known as relational frame theory (RFT), which led to the publication of a full book-length treatment of human language and cognition in 2001 (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001). One of the domains targeted in the book was the role of derived relational responding in the analysis of self in relation to others, time, and place. Specifically, three core deictic relations were identified. The interpersonal relations involve responding to I and you, the spatial relations involve responding to here and there, and the temporal relations involve responding to now and then.

There have been many studies on the deictic relations, most employing the Barnes-Holmes (2001) written protocol for assessing and establishing these relations when they are found to be absent in young children. The results of this body of research may be summarized as follows: (1) The data support the distinctions among the three types of deictic relations (McHugh, Barnes-Holmes, & Barnes-Holmes, 2004). (2) The deictic relations vary on a continuum of complexity from simple relations (e.g., I versus you) to reversed relations (e.g., if I were you and you were me), and even double reversed relations (e.g., if I were you and you were me, and if here were there and there were here, see McHugh, Barnes-Holmes, & Barnes-Holmes, 2004). (3) Deictic relations can be established if they are found to be absent, and when trained, they generalize to natural language (Heagle & Rehfeldt, 2006; Weil, Hayes, & Capurro, 2011). (4) There appears to be a developmental trend in which the interpersonal and simple relations emerge first (McHugh et al., 2004). (5) Competence in deictic relational responding correlates with cognitive abilities and IQ (Gore, Barnes-Holmes, & Murphy, 2010). (6) There is overlap between competence in deictic responding and traditional theory of mind (ToM) tests (Weil, Hayes, & Capurro, 2011).

Additional research has attempted to use the Barnes-Holmes (2001) protocol to explore the potential role of the deictic relations in adult psychological suffering. For example, Villatte, Monestes, McHugh, Freixa i Baque, and Loas (2008) compared individuals with high versus low self-reported social anhedonia. While both groups showed strong overall accuracy, some superiority was observed for the low anhedonia group on the I-YOU reversals and the IYOU/HERE-THERE double reversals. A replication of this study by Villatte, Monestes, McHugh, Freixa i Baque, and Loas (2010) with individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia similarly reported some superiority for a control group on I-YOU and NOW-THEN reversals. The authors concluded that relative deficits in deictic relational responding may constitute a feature of these types of psychological suffering.

The use of the Barnes-Holmes (2001) deictic protocol to draw conclusions about clinical phenomena has been criticized on several grounds (Hussey et al., 2014). (1) The protocol was explicitly designed for developmental purposes (i.e., use with young children) to establish deictic relations when they were found to be absent or deficient. (2) McHugh et al. (2004) demonstrated that even typically developing adults show deficits on specific deictic relations when these relations are not presented as they typically are in natural language (see also Vitale, Barnes-Holmes, Barnes-Holmes, & Campbell, 2008). (3) RFT does not necessarily predict that psychological suffering involves deficits (rather than excesses) in relational responding. (4) It is possible that deficits or unexpected patterns of deictic relational responding in general (e.g., which color chair you are sitting on relative to someone else) might be observed in psychological suffering, but more meaningful effects would likely be obtained if the deictic relations were specific to the domain of interest (e. …

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