Fear and Avoidance: A Three-Day Investigation on the Impact of a Fear-Related Verbal-Rehearsal Task on a Behavior–Behavior Relation

Aileen Leech, Dermot Barnes-holmes

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Abstract

Recent research suggests that fear and avoidance responding based on derived transformation of functions may be considered functionally independent. The current study examined the impact of a fear-related verbal-rehearsal task on performance on two implicit relational assessment procedures (IRAPs), actual approach behavior towards a live spider (a BAT), and the relationship between the IRAPs and the BAT. The study was conducted over 3 separate days. Day 1 involved exposure to a series of questionnaires, the fear-related verbal-rehearsal task and homework. Day 2 involved a second exposure to the fear-related verbal-rehearsal task and exposure to the IRAPs and BAT. The final day involved a second exposure to the IRAPs and BAT. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (i.e., control, accept, or reduce fear). Broadly similar findings were obtained for performance on the IRAPs as were reported by Leech et al. (2017). No significant differences between the conditions emerged on the self-report measures, IRAPs, or the BAT. However, correlations between performances on the IRAPs and the BAT were concentrated almost exclusively in the control and reduce-fear conditions rather than the accept-fear condition. The replication of results reported here provide further evidence of the functional independence of approach and avoidance responding. Furthermore, the differential pattern of correlations observed provide further evidence that the fear-related verbal-rehearsal task affected a behavior–behavior relation, which may be directly relevant to the concept of defusion in the ACT literature. In addition, the differential arbitrarily applicable relational responding effects (DAARRE) model offers an alternative explanation for the results reported.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Psychological Record
Early online date25 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was prepared with the support of an Odysseus Group 1 grant (2015–2020) awarded to the second author by the Flanders Science Foundation (FWO) and a doctoral research scholarship awarded to the first author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Association for Behavior Analysis International.

Keywords

  • Avoidance
  • DAARRE
  • Fear
  • IRAP

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