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Technical Notation as a Tool for Basic Research in Relational Frame Theory

  • Shane McLoughlin
  • Ian TyndallEmail author
  • Teresa Mulhern
  • Sam Ashcroft
Theoretical Article

Abstract

A core overarching aim of Relational Frame Theory (RFT) research on language and cognition is the prediction and influence of human behavior with precision, scope, and depth. However, the conceptualization and delineation of empirical investigations of higher-order language and cognition from a relational framing theoretical standpoint is a challenging task that requires a high degree of abstract reasoning and creativity. To that end, we propose using symbolic notation as seen in early RFT experimental literature as a possible functional-analytical tool to aid in the articulation of hypotheses and design of such experiments. In this article, we provide examples of aspects of cognition previously identified in RFT literature and how they can be articulated rather more concisely using technical notation than in-text illustration. We then provide a brief demonstration of the utility of notation by offering examples of several novel experiments and hypotheses in notation format. In two tables, we provide a “key” for understanding the technical notation written herein, which other basic-science researchers may decide to draw on in future. To conclude, this article is intended to be a useful resource to those who wish to carry out basic RFT research on complex language and cognition with greater technical clarity, precision, and broad scope.

Keywords

Relational frame theory Basic research Notation Experimentation Precision Future research 

Notes

Funding

The study was not supported by any grant funding from any institution or organization.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

On behalf of all the authors the corresponding author confirms that no author has a conflict of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

Not applicable as not an empirical study paper.

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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ChesterChesterUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ChichesterChichesterUK

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