A recent systematic review has highlighted that the terms “pliance,” “tracking,” and “augmenting” have rarely been used as the basis for conducting systematic experimental-analytic research since their conception in 1982, despite their theoretical centrality to the study of rule-governed behavior and their presumed impact on psychological suffering. Given that some time has passed since the review article, it may be useful to reflect again upon their place within the literature on the experimental analysis of human behavior, and relational frame theory in particular. As such, the current article constitutes a “position piece” rather than another formal systematic review. In reviewing (informally) the literature since the systematic review, the recent emergence of psychometric research involving these concepts could be seen as reinforcing the original conclusions, in that researchers are recognizing that pliance, tracking, and augmenting may be of limited value in the experimental analysis of human behavior. Instead, the concept of rule-governed behavior itself, as well as the subcategories of pliance, tracking, and augmenting, should be considered middle-level terms, which lack the relative precision of more technical terms within the literature on relational frame theory.
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- rule-governed behavior