➊ Critical Relational Frames

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Critical Relational Frames

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Relational Frame Theory (RFT) From your ACT Auntie

Samsa wrote : I don't know a whole lot about this subject, but I do know that whenever I've heard behavioral scientists particularly those working in stimulus equivalence research discuss relational frame theory, it's always in a negative way. Samsa wrote : One of the main issues with the theory put forward by researchers is that its mechanisms are so vague that it makes it difficult to tell exactly what they're proposing, and how we could possibly test certain aspects of it.

Samsa wrote : Generally, RFT is ignored in the literature and the main theories for the explanation of stimulus equivalence and thus language are " Sidman's theory " highly imaginative name there and Tonnaeu's " Stimulus-Relation " theory. For an accurate assessment, we need to compare the respective arguments and counter-arguments in detail. The history of the acting organism is the basis for bringing about verbal stimulus functions, not the history of another organism or listener. In the RFT analysis, both the speaker and the listener are engaging in verbal behavior.

The speaker does so by producing stimuli that are based on relationally framed events, and the listener does so by responding based on these relationally framed events. First, although Sidman provided one of the earliest behavioral accounts of stimulus equivalence, his approach was, and is, primarily a descriptive one. A precise, coherent description of empirical phenomena is important, but it does not satisfy the need for a functional, behavioral explanation. None of the other research programs are doing studies of so many aspects of language.

I must admit a poverty of knowledge on this. Yet language is something that I need to look at in more detail. I like studying how self organizing mechanistic systems can be used to model more general brain or neural function. Yet language remains pretty much a void. I need to study this stuff. I find the technical aspects of this are way over my head, but I'm interested in what a behavioural approach to language can teach linguistics. What I found particulary promising in the RTF is the interest in some difficult aspects of language use - for some reason, I'm especially interested in any work done on the metaphor. Though again, I'm not sure how you can experimentally investigate that, given that it isn't all that clear that it is a discrete category of language use.

We probably all been taught in school that metaphor and metonymy rely on completely different mechanisms, and it used to be structuralist linguistic orthodoxy that they do, but I've always inclined more towards Genette's deconstruction of this opposition, I find his work on this very convincing. Furthermore, when speaking of vocabulary, the line between the literal and metaphoric uses of a word is never easy to draw and it shifts over time, so here again is a source of ambiguity and confusion.

I think metaphor-related phenomena are among the crucial challenges for any theory of language, and at the same metaphor may be one of those commonsense concepts that might actually be counterproductive in research if taken at face value, so I'd be interested in seeing how this can be tackled in psychological research and what insights such research can yield for other fields that study aspects of language.

ETA a quick and probably silly question on Tonneau, when he speaks of functional equivalence, I suppose this isn't the same as the functional dynamic equivalence found in translation studies? In translation studies, this refers to a focus on content and communicative function of source and target texts, as opposed to formal word-for-word equivalence. Edit: spelling. Last edited by katja z on Thu Nov 11, am, edited 1 time in total. This interpretation sees the metaphor as involving four elements: a establishing two separate equivalence relations, b deriving an equivalence relation between these relations, c discriminating a formal relation via this equivalence-equivalence relation, and d a transformation of functions on the basis of the formal relation discriminated in the third element.

At the most general level, variables or procedures are functionally equivalent if they have the same effect on behavior. Indeed, searching for functionally equivalent procedures may be a good way to isolate fundamental independent variables e. Damn, I need to get a firmer grip on the terminology of behaviourism. Another foreign lingo to learn Still, as far as I can see the paper you quote from I'll look at it a bit later, sorry uses a definition that fits the classical Aristotelian account of metaphor as a compacted simile.

This is fairly restrictive but has the advantage of being well-defined so it can be a useful starting point, but trying to define all instances of metaphor in terms of this structure is problematic. At a guess, there's a confusion stemming from the fact that this is a term from rhetorics and literary criticism adopted into linguistics, and there's no guarantee that all phenomena that have been identified as metaphor operate on the same mechanisms, so what we have here is a bit of a conceptual mess not so different, I suppose, from what you get when you try to map concepts from folk psychology onto brain processes.

Thanks for the clarification on functional equivalence, it seems I wasn't so far off the mark. I don't understand Tonneau's explanation though, whose behaviour is it he talks about in the first sentence, the speaker's or the addressee's? Samsa wrote : Well what is it about RFT that you find so convincing? I've heard of people who find the concept plausible, but I don't know any who seem quite as convinced as you except perhaps Hayes and Barnes-Holmes, or therapists. Samsa wrote : To be honest, this paper just confused me further. This part for example So they're just suggesting that "relational frames" are discriminative stimuli. Samsa wrote : As such, the theory seems indistinguishable from Sidman's theory, except the authors go on to confuse me by saying Samsa wrote : Bah, I thought it was in that Minster and Elliffe paper but the information I was thinking of is from a currently unpublished conference discussion.

Basically, they set up an experiment where operant reinforcement contingencies and respondent-type stimulus pairings conflicted. So they had a stimulus equivalence situation where the possible choice option was that predicted by previously reinforced trials, and one that had never been reinforced but was associated with the exemplar, and they found near exclusive choice for the respondent relation. Samsa wrote : Plus, there's also the experiments that show you can get equivalence without reinforcement Samsa wrote : So whilst it's not really possible to currently say which process is more important, a reasonable argument could certainly be made that Pavlovian conditioning is more important.

Samsa wrote : And indeed, I know there is some discussion over the separation of classical and operant conditioning, but it would be up to RFT proponents to make a convincing argument for a collapse of the distinction before we can view it as convincing. Samsa wrote : As it currently stands, we have documented evidence of equivalence relations being formed with no reinforcement component, so even if they did convince us that we shouldn't view the two as separate processes, their theories would still have some difficulties getting over that hurdle.

Samsa wrote : I agree that one advantage of RFT is that it does explicitly investigate more areas of language and cognition, but I think this is mostly to do with the way they've proposed their arguments where they've phrased the concepts of stimulus equivalence in a more "cognitive" language that allows for more overlap in the fields. I don't think there is anything special about RFT in that sense though apart from terminology - that is, most of that research you're discussing is made possible through stimulus equivalence, and not RFT. Samsa wrote : RFT is not completely discounted, but I still think this is mostly due to the vagueness of the proposal rather than its explanatory power. From the evidence it seems clear that any theory of stimulus equivalence absolutely requires a large emphasis on the role of respondent conditioning and RFT lacks this.

Sidman's theory was disproven by the Minster and Elliffe paper, and our best explanation for stimulus equivalence is surely Tonneau's stimulus-relation theory. So stimulus equivalence could provide an explanation for specific language structures like metaphors, and RFT then explains how stimulus equivalence occurs - obviously there will be some overlap where RFT makes specific predictions, but there's probably no particular need to employ RFT before even seeing if metaphor can be explained by stimulus equivalence. Samsa wrote : On that note, however, this paper suggests that a metaphor can be understood in stimulus equivalence terms as such: This interpretation sees the metaphor as involving four elements: a establishing two separate equivalence relations, b deriving an equivalence relation between these relations, c discriminating a formal relation via this equivalence-equivalence relation, and d a transformation of functions on the basis of the formal relation discriminated in the third element.

Samsa wrote : To be fair, most behaviorists disagree over what their own terminology means And then you have people like the ones who created RFT using different words to describe the exact same processes already defined in stimulus equivalence.. It's a wacky world. But you can have equivalence between other relations, e. History of reinforcement can be a garbage dump if you are not careful, but an advantage of it is that you can manipulate it.

The RFT researchers have done that in many studies, and not just with equivalence although there too, eg infants -- see Luciano, M. The role of multiple-exemplar training and naming in establishing derived equivalence in an infant. Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 87, For example here is one with comparative relations: Berens, N. Arbitrarily applicable comparative relations: Experimental Evidence for relational operants. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40, In a combined multiple baseline across responses and participants and multiple probe design with trained and untrained stimuli , this study found that reinforced multiple exemplar training facilitated the development of arbitrary comparative relations, and that these skills generalized not just across stimuli but also across trial types.

Establishing a deictic relational repertoire in young children. The Psychological Record. There are a half a dozen others As for the idea that multiple stimulus relations can be accounted for by equivalence and thus by Sidman's account -- that idea simply will not work. No one has shown experimentally that it will, and I know of no major figure even making that claim. Murray has repeatedly and explicitly denied that his approach is an attempt to construct a comprehensive approach to language and cognition.

In that context it's a bit jarring to see the posts that seem to treat equivalence as an adequate approach to many areas in language and cognition, justifying that claim by an appeal to Sidman. That idea is a dead horse. Empirically, it certainly seems to be. Equivalence is 40 years old and has roots that go back several decade more. If that idea is so sound, where are the data? Taylor [16] has since suggested neurobiological research as a promising area that may offer some explanation about the role emotions play, closing the gap between rationality and emotion in the transformative learning process.

Taylor implies that, with available modern technology such as magnetic resonance imaging MRI and positron emission tomography PET , these once obscure factors can now be examined through determining which neurological brain systems are at work during disorienting dilemmas and the journey of recovery that follows. This neurobiological research also stresses the importance of the role of implicit memory , from which emerge habits, attitudes and preferences that are related to unconscious thoughts and actions.

While the learning process is certainly rational on some levels, it is also a profound experience that can be described as a spiritual or emotional transformation as well. The experience of undoing racist, sexist, and other oppressive attitudes can be painful and emotional, as these attitudes have often been developed as ways to cope with and make sense of the world. This type of learning requires taking risks, and a willingness to be vulnerable and have one's attitudes and assumptions challenged. Other theorists have proposed a view of transformative learning as an intuitive and emotional process.

John M. Dirkx, Robert D. Boyd, J. Gordon Myers, and Rosemary R. Ruether link Mezirow's rational, cognitive and analytical approach to a more intuitive, creative and holistic view of transformative learning. For Boyd, transformation is a "fundamental change in one's personality involving [together] the resolution of a personal dilemma and the expansion of consciousness resulting in greater personality integration". First, an individual must be receptive or open to receiving "alternative expressions of meaning", and then recognize that the message is authentic. More recent research has specifically explored the process of transformative learning as it occurs in bereaved elders, [22] maintaining that the "disorienting dilemma" deemed necessary by Mezirow is present in the loss of a loved one, with an additional devastating factor being the isolation that the elderly in particular are likely to face.

Another study considers transformative learning in the context of suicide bereavement. Unlike Mezirow, who sees the ego as playing a central role in the process of perspective transformation, Boyd and Myers use a framework that moves beyond the ego and the emphasis on reason and logic to a definition of transformative learning that is more psychosocial in nature. Another definition of transformative learning was put forward by Edmund O'Sullivan: [25]. Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and irreversibly alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race and gender; our body awareness, our visions of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of possibilities for social justice and peace and personal joy.

Positing that understanding transformative learning may have been hindered by perspectives of rational thought and Western traditions, Kathleen P. King [25] [26] provides an alternate model grounded in a meta-analysis of research, the "Transformative Learning Opportunities Model". Recent considerations of these varying perspectives seem to indicate that one perspective does not need to exclude the other. For example, Mezirow and Dirkx discussed their views on transformative learning at a International Transformative Learning Conference. This dialogue, facilitated by Patricia Cranton, continued via email after the conference and the overview was published in the Journal of Transformative Education.

Dirkx focuses on subjectivity, in the power of the inner world in one's shift in view of the outer world. Mezirow emphasizes critical assessment of assumptions. Although their approaches are different, they agree that their perspectives are similar in several aspects. This includes transforming frames of reference that have lost meaning or have become dysfunctional, and fostering enhanced awareness and consciousness of one's being in the world. Both perspectives are required to deepen understanding and to incorporate these ways of learning into transformative education. One of the difficulties in defining transformative learning is that it bleeds into the boundaries of concepts such as " meaning making " or " critical thinking ".

The term "meaning making" i. In the constructivist view, meaning is constructed from knowledge. John Dirkx views transformational learning as a meaning-making process within adult education, aimed at promoting a democratic vision of society and self-actualization of individuals. Therefore, transformational learning requires authenticity, a commitment to focus on the here and now, and awareness of feelings and emotions within the learning setting. The relationship between the individual and the broader world is discussed in terms of the critical role it plays in learning. Dirkx describes our emotions and feelings as a kind of language for helping us learn about ourselves, our relationships with others and how we makes sense of all aspects of our experiences, both objective and subjective.

Mezirow [30] posits that all learning is change but not all change is transformation. There is a difference between transmissional, transactional and transformational education. In transactional education, it is recognized that the student has valuable experiences, and learns best through experience, inquiry, critical thinking and interaction with other learners. It could be argued that some of the research regarding transformative learning has been in the realm of transactional education, and that what is seen as transformative by some authors [32] is in fact still within the realm of transactional learning.

According to Stephen D. Brookfield , learning can only be considered transformative if it involves a fundamental questioning or reordering of how one thinks or acts; a challenge to hegemonic implications. On the surface, the two views of transformative learning presented here are contradictory. One advocates a rational approach that depends primarily on critical reflection whereas the other relies more on intuition and emotion. However, the differences in the two views may best be seen as a matter of emphasis. Both utilize rational processes and incorporate imagination as a part of a creative process. The two different views of transformative learning described here as well as examples of how it occurs in practice [34] suggest that no single model of transformative learning exists.

When transformative learning is the goal of adult education , fostering a learning environment in which it can occur should consider the following:. Transformative learning cannot be guaranteed. Teachers can only provide an opportunity to transformatively learn. This includes their own assumptions that lead to their interpretations, beliefs, habits of mind, or points of view, as well as the assumptions of others.

Educators must provide learners practice in recognizing frames of reference. By doing so, educators encourage practice in redefining problems from different perspectives. Educators need to provide learners with opportunities to effectively participate in discourse. Learners are able to validate how and what they understand, as well as develop well-informed judgments regarding a belief. Educators can encourage critical reflection and experience with discourse through the implementation of methods including metaphor analysis, concept mapping, consciousness raising, life histories, repertory grids, and participation in social action. The educator must encourage equal participation among students in discourse. One strategy is to encourage procedures that require group members to take on the roles of monitoring the direction of dialogue and ensuring equal participation.

Educators can also encourage dialogue from different perspectives through controversial statements or readings from opposing points of view. It is necessary that the educator avoids shaping the discussion. The role of educators is also to set objectives that include autonomous thinking. By fostering learners' critical reflection and experience in discourse, autonomous thinking is possible. The foundations to thinking autonomously begin in childhood and continue in adulthood. The educator assists adult learners in becoming more critical in assessing assumptions, better at recognizing frames of references and alternate perspectives, as well as effective at collaborating with others to assess and arrive at judgments in regards to beliefs.

It is the role of the educator to promote discovery learning through the implementation of classroom methods such as learning contracts, group projects, role play, case studies, and simulations. These methods facilitate transformative learning by helping learners examine concepts in the context of their lives and analyze the justification of new knowledge. The educator's role in establishing an environment that builds trust and care and facilitates the development of sensitive relationships among learners is a fundamental principle of fostering transformative learning.

Mezirow outlines three ways in which experience is interpreted through reflection: [41]. Transformative learning about teaching occurs when educators critically examine their practice and develop alternative perspectives of understanding their practice. The role of professional development is to assist educators in gaining awareness of their habits of mind regarding teaching. Teachers need education and professional development that will help them to question, challenge and experience critical discussions on school improvement. Transforming teachers so they see themselves as agents of social change can be a challenge within education. Strategies for transformative professional development include action plans, reflective activities, case studies, curriculum development, and critical-theory discussions.

Action plans and reflective activities provide the practice and modelling of critical reflection on the profession of education, and provide guidance for the teaching and learning experience. The use of case studies focuses on practice, and on the philosophical and practical aspects of educators' practice. In addition to introducing new teaching techniques, educators can test and compare new concepts and practices with previous techniques. This testing and comparison moves away from uncritically accepting new teaching methods.

Critical-theory discussions can be implemented to guide educators in questioning the meaning and purpose of information, encouraging educators to question the selection of the information they provide to their students.

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