MURAL - Maynooth University Research Archive Library



    Transitions from avoidance: Reinforcing competing behaviours reduces generalised avoidance in new contexts


    Bennett, Marc P and Roche, Bryan and Dymond, Simon and Baeyens, Frank and Vervliet, Bram and Hermans, Dirk (2020) Transitions from avoidance: Reinforcing competing behaviours reduces generalised avoidance in new contexts. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73 (12). pp. 2119-2131. ISSN 1747-0226

    [img]
    Preview
    Download (1MB) | Preview


    Share your research

    Twitter Facebook LinkedIn GooglePlus Email more...



    Add this article to your Mendeley library


    Abstract

    Generalised avoidance behaviours are a common diagnostic feature of anxiety-related disorders and a barrier to affecting changes in anxiety during therapy. However, strategies to mitigate generalised avoidance are under-investigated. Even less attention is given to reducing the category-based generalisation of avoidance. We therefore investigated the potential of an operant-based approach. Specifically, it was examined whether reinforcing competing (non-avoidance) behaviours to threat-predictive cues would interfere with the expression of generalised avoidance. Using a matching-to-sample task, artificial stimulus categories were established using physically dissimilar nonsense shapes. A member of one category (conditioned stimulus; CS1) was then associated with an aversive outcome in an Acquisition context, unless an avoidance response was made. Next, competing behaviours were reinforced in response to the CS1 in new contexts. Finally, we tested for the generalisation of avoidance to another member of the stimulus category (generalisation stimulus; GS1) in both a Novel context and the Acquisition context. The selective generalisation of avoidance to GS1 was observed, but only in the Acquisition context. In the Novel context, the generalisation of avoidance to GSs was significantly reduced. A comparison group (Experiment 2), which did not learn any competing behaviours, avoided GS1 in both contexts. These findings suggest that reinforcing competing behavioural responses to threat-predictive cues can lead to reductions in generalised avoidance. This study is among the first study to demonstrate sustained reductions in generalised avoidance resulting from operant-based protocols, and the clinical and research implications are discussed.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). Cite as: 1. Bennett MP, Roche B, Dymond S, Baeyens F, Vervliet B, Hermans D. Transitions from avoidance: Reinforcing competing behaviours reduces generalised avoidance in new contexts. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2020;73(12):2119-2131. doi:10.1177/1747021820943148
    Keywords: Avoidance; generalisation; category-based generalisation; anxiety;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 15413
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021820943148
    Depositing User: Dr. Bryan Roche
    Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2022 14:47
    Journal or Publication Title: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
    Publisher: Taylor & Francis
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

    Repository Staff Only(login required)

    View Item Item control page

    Downloads

    Downloads per month over past year