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FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISMFUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM an approach that satisfies scientists and practitioners unites biological, cognitive and behavioural psychology.

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Presentation on theme: "FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISMFUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM an approach that satisfies scientists and practitioners unites biological, cognitive and behavioural psychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISMFUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM an approach that satisfies scientists and practitioners unites biological, cognitive and behavioural psychology along with evolutionary science in a way that opens exciting directions in our ability to understand how people work and how to help them.

2 Philosophy of science – why bother?Philosophy of science – why bother? Pre-analytic assumptions explicit  owning them Attempting to eliminate incoherence in assumptions Rules of evidence (or criteria for truth)  used to create, assess, and evaluate knowledge claims and theories  how otherwise to proceed effectively in science? Coherence, less misunderstanding & pointless debate, productive comparisons / theory evaluations PROGRESSIVITY OF SCIENCE, BUILDING THE WORK

3 Functional ContextualismFunctional Contextualism A philosophy of science and variant of contextualism that has as its primary goal the prediction and influence of events with precision, scope, and depth using empirically based concepts and rules. It seeks the construction of knowledge that is general, abstract, and spatiotemporally unrestricted, like a scientific principle.

4 TRACING THE HISTORY – David HUMETRACING THE HISTORY – David HUME 1711-1776 Scottish philosopher Empiricism, Skepticism, the Enlightenment Hume and the problem of causation The Is–ought problem Hume's treatment of the problem of causation is his most distinctive and influential achievement, and the most adequate general theory of causation yet to appear in the literature “brilliant and arguably the first behaviorist” (Kelly Wilson, RFT Listserve 24.09.10) Major influence on Darwin, Mach, Skinner...

5 A LEAP FORWARD – Ernst MACHA LEAP FORWARD – Ernst MACH 1838 –1916 Austrian Major contributions to physics, philosophy, physiological psychology. In physics, the speed of sound = Mach 1 etc His critique of Newtonian ideas eg of absolute space and time were an inspiration to the young Einstein, who credited Mach as being the philosophical forerunner of relativity theory. “In speaking of cause and effect we arbitrarily give relief to those elements to whose connection we have to attend in the reproduction of a fact in the respect in which it is important to us.” “There is no cause nor effect in nature; nature has but an individual existence; nature simply is.”

6 Mach and functional contextualismMach and functional contextualism A piece of knowledge is never false or true - but only more or less biologically and evolutionary useful. All dogmatic creeds are approximations: these approximations form a humus from which better approximations grow. (Ernst Mach, p97) According to our conception, natural laws are a product of our psychological need to feel at home with nature; all concepts transcending sensation are to be justified as helping us understand, control and predict our environment, and different conceptual systems may be used to this end in different cultures and at different times with equal propriety. A conceptual system is better if it is simple, comprehensive and free from internal contradictions; such a system is more useful to us and more fruitful. But we must not be misled into saying that nature itself is simple, economical and the like; the difference between economical and cumbersome conceptual systems is one of utility, not truth. (p188)

7 Mach’s interest in psychologyMach’s interest in psychology The frequent excursions which I have made into this province have all sprung from the profound conviction that the foundations of science as a whole, and of physics in particular, await their next greatest elucidations from the side of biology, and especially, from the analysis of the sensations. [Mach in Analysis of Sensations: Preface] Mach was a naturalist and a monist, as well as an anti-materialist in the sense of being an anti-mechanist. Naturalism... nothing beyond nature, not even the organic or mental, and evolution is thus generally a crucial component of it. The materialism of the mechanical philosophy is the further view that this nature consists of matter in motion, and in particular that psychic phenomena can be reduced to matter in motion. Whereas mechanistic materialism views nature as an organized system of billiard balls, Mach's evolutionary perspective viewed nature as a dynamic process.

8 Interbehaviorism – JR KantorInterbehaviorism – JR Kantor 1888-1984 - interbehaviorism Founded THE PSYCHOLOGICAL RECORD employing BF Skinner as Experimental Dept Editor A prominent systematic psychologist, organized scientific values into a coherent system of psychology. From the interbehavioral perspective, self-actional causes, whether fictional events (e.g., mentalism) or fictional powers attributed to otherwise actual events (brain as cause of behavior), are anathema to science of psychology. EG all reflection may be regarded as an individual's conversation with himself = VB “He’s always been there first.” Jay Moore, The Interbehaviorist, 1987

9 JR Kantor – He’s always been there first – Jay Moore, The Interbehaviorist 1987 Kantor (1938) begins: It is the thesis of the present paper that the operational principle first formulated for physics can with suitable modification be employed to the psychologist's advantage in clearing up many of his age-old problems. (p. 3) Skinner (1945) writes: The operational attitude, in spite of its shortcomings, is a good thing in any science but especially in psychology because of the presence there of a vast vocabulary of ancient and non-scientific origin. (p. 271)

10 Revivalism in psychology – the renaming of prescientific constructs

11 Solid Foundations – BF SkinnerSolid Foundations – BF Skinner 1904 – 1990 Burrhus Frederic Skinner Founder of contextual behavioral science The Behaviour of Organisms: an Experimental Analysis 1938 Walden Two 1948 key papers 1945, 1950 Cumulative Record... right through to Recent Issues in the Analysis of Behavior, 1989 "we may now take that more humble view of explanation and causation which seems to have been first suggested by Mach and is now a common characteristic of scientific thought, wherein, in a word, explanation is reduced to description and the notion of function is substituted for that of causation”

12 Philosophical clarification – Stephen C PepperPhilosophical clarification – Stephen C Pepper 1903 – 1972 World Hypotheses 1942,... no data free from interpretation. root metaphors necessary in epistemology objectivity a myth... no such thing as pure, objective fact analysis is necessary to understand how to interpret 'facts.' Pepper does so by developing the "[root metaphor method,...] and outlines what he considers to be four basically adequate world hypotheses (world views or conceptual systems): formism, mechanism, contextualism, and organicism."  strengths and weaknesses of each world hypothesis as well as paradoxical and sometimes mystifying effects of the effort to synthesize them “his framework can prove very useful for revealing the essential components, assumptions, and concerns of different discourse communities.” ACBS site

13 Refinement, extension - Steven C HayesRefinement, extension - Steven C Hayes b. 1948 “ACBS - What we are seeking is the development of a coherent and progressive contextual behavioral science that is more adequate to the challenges of the human condition.” Also Aaron Brownstein, Linda Hayes (nee Parrott) Reece, Barnes-Holmes, Roche others within CBS Prediction-and-influence, with precision, scope and depth

14 Varieties of scientific contextualismVarieties of scientific contextualism Nevada Conference of the Varieties of Scientific Contextualism January 3 – 5 1992 - Successful Working Is Our Truth Criteria Correspondence-based Truth Criteria Must Be Rejected Stephen Hayes, Linda Hayes, Hayne Reese, Theodore Sarbin Ch 1 Analytic Goals and the Varieties of Scientific Contextualism. Stephen C Hayes. Ch 2 Reality and Truth. Linda J Hayes Ch11 A Functional Contextualist Framework for Community Interventions. Anthony Biglan

15 “I don’t really believe in cause.” Steven C Hayes 2011 An explosion in a grain silo– behaviour therapist podcast GIVEN THE GRAIN DUST, THE OXYGEN, THE SPARK = EXPLOSION None “causes” the other, they just “are”... But...for pragmatic purposes... Eg welding assumes a vacuum grain silo assumes no spark For the purpose of Prediction and Influence we may call aspects stimuli, aspect behavior, and look for functional relations Holding a bar, letting go, falling  Fall AS LET GO  mechanism problem BUT examining the same situation  functional relations no problem!

16 Simplifying, clarifying. Kelly G WilsonSimplifying, clarifying. Kelly G Wilson ? D.o.b.... 195x Some notes on theoretical constructs The following are some key points and underlying assumptions of our case: 1. Formulated constructs ought to be continuous with the events within the field of purported interest. 2. The ultimate validity of constructs is reducible to the extent of improvement in orientation to the field of interest they provide (i.e., enhanced prediction and control [with precision, scope and depth])

17 FC phil science geek – Kelly WilsonFC phil science geek – Kelly Wilson 3. Constructs ought not be confused with the crude events with which the scientist interacts 4. Constructs are never attributed ontological validity as result of any operational successes, rather they are maintained as operationally valid. The extent of this validity may be assessed according to the metric described in proposition 2 (i.e. improvement in orientation to the field of interest – prediction and control with precision, scope and depth). 5. Divergence from the above will at best be superfluous and at worst will draw the investigator’s efforts in directions unfruitful to the advancement of a given field

18 Types and characteristics of theoretical constructs – Kelly Wilson, Some notes…

19 Some notes on theory. Wilson 2001Some notes on theory. Wilson 2001 What I propose is an approach to theorizing that is consistent with the expected effects of selection by consequences. I have argued against theories that appeal to events outside observations and operations, because of their inherent isolation from the selective effects of experimentation. I propose that science in general, and psychology in particular, will be best advanced by a rich interplay of theorizing and experimentation. The sort of theory suggested is expected to maximize these selective effects.

20 FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM - Niklas TornekeFUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM - Niklas Torneke Functional Contextualism - the application of fundamental behavioristic principles in a consistent, all-inclusive way. Eg Operant conditioning - our actions are influenced by the consequences we have previously encountered. If consistent, this holds for me as a scientist. I do what I do in an experiment as a consequence of outcomes of similar experimentation earlier (along with other contingencies). I approach my subject matter in an overall stance which is the functional ‘product’ of previous + present contingencies. Rp.

21 BF Skinner – About BehaviorismBF Skinner – About Behaviorism It would be absurd for the behaviorist to contend that he is in any way exempt from his analysis. He cannot step outside of the causal stream and observe behavior from some special point of vantage, “perched on the epicycle of Mercury.” In the very act of analyzing human behavior he is behaving. (1974) Cumulative Record...

22 AONTOLOGICAL, MONISTIC TornekeAONTOLOGICAL, MONISTIC Torneke As a scientist (behaving organism), I am not outside or above the principles I study. Applied consistently, all claims of representing the ontological truth have to be dropped. We cannot maintain that “this is the way it really is.” FC’ists (are disinterested in statements about reality, and) repudiate the notion that the scientist operates from an objective and neutral position. You cannot understand behavior without studying its context. All behavior takes place within a context. But neither can the context be studied independent of behavior. This means for all science chosen values are fundamental. It is possible to apply these basic positions of functional contextual science in the strategic approach to the relationship between the structure of organisms and their behaviour. And it must be with a purpose.

23 For the functional contextualist, biological events are not biological Physiological events may be incorporated into a science of behaviour not as physiological offence per se, but as behavioural events. Dermot Barnes Holmes 2003 On the other hand, the behaviour of physiologists in identifying strictly physiological relations may also be analysed as behaviour. Physiology implies changes over time within the structure and function of a living organism, and therefore can be analysed within a functional contextual framework. If this is not done, then the goals and aims of the behaving scientist are overlooked. This is frequently the case, and the goals and aims are generally mechanistic, reductionist and increasingly unhappily commercial.

24 Assumptions, coherence, effectivenessAssumptions, coherence, effectiveness Elemental realist neuroscience Structure and Function relations = FC Neuroscience Emotions, Motivation Memory, Hallucinations



27 i.e. but… the “realness” of drugs, neurotransmitters etc ??? Scientific laws (and statements about observed phenomena including drugs, fMRI’s, neurones)... specify or imply responses and consequences. They are not... obeyed by nature but… … by men that deal effectively with nature. The formula s = 1/2 gt2 does not govern the behavior of falling bodies… … it governs those who correctly predict the position of falling bodies at given times. (BF Skinner, 1969, p. 141)


29 Can we talk ontologically workably, and not slip into ontological mechanism? 1. Languaging “depression” / “SSRI” / “fMRI finding of enhanced dorsolateral medial cortex activity” can be continuous with observed client / client-clinician behavior/ verbal response / scientist response to instrument output 2. Saying “SSRI” etc may enhance precision, scope and depth of analysing contextually client verbal response/ effective scientist behavior to instrument output and applicability to other client behavior/experiments/aspects of experiment and other fields of interest – i.e. success in workability

30 Can we talk ontologically workably, and not slip into ontological mechanism? 3. Naming “SSRI” ought not be confused with the crude constructs with which the clinician/ scientist is interacting i.e. client, clinician or scientist behavior in a context 4. “depression” / “SSRI” / “fMRI finding” need not be given ontological validity, rather only effectiveness validity, i.e. improving prediction and influence of client / clinician / scientist behavior with precision, scope and depth 5. Divergence from the above will be superfluous or harmfully distracting….  SEE ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC… the failure of DSM… of neurochemical theories… the mainstream psychiatric field


32 Hank Robb – Listserve 25 Sept 2010Hank Robb – Listserve 25 Sept 2010 “Life is between the trapeze bars” The problem is a non-unitary assumption. You can't really "prove" the non-dualistic approach except to point out all the messes and dead ends you end up with not taking it - "Maybe so," agree the dualists… "But that is just how things are! The problems that flow from dualism are just too bad and it's just HOW THINGS ARE !” From a functional contextualist view, in the end, there's nothing ontologically that you can "hang on to." Life (and science) is an "act of faith up in the air”  how it works for a chosen purpose

33 Pragmatism or “Realism” – a choicePragmatism or “Realism” – a choice Monistic/holistic Contextualistic Humility of only ever considering the work as something of use for a chosen purpose i.e. truth is specifically defined as the usefulness regarding prediction and influence, with precision, scope and depth Treatment / intervention utility of the strategy is built in to every aspect of the work; philosophy / basic science / clinical Values must guide the scientific approach Dualistic/pluralistic Mechanistic, non-contextualistic Nobility of discovery of the reality of the way the universe is truly constructed i.e. truth being assumed to be what things are really like, an ever more accurate correspondence to the reality of things Treatment / intervention utility of the strategy is a separate matter entirely requiring a subsequent research program Values not needed – this IS how things ARE

34 Integrating Psychological / Neurobiological Levels in Contextual Behavioral Science The Psychological Level The study of whole organisms acting in and with a context considered historically and situationally The Neurobiological Level The study of the nervous system of organisms in reaction to external and internal events and in relation to behavior

35 1953 – 199? Harvard Psychobiology Laboratory Emphasis on behavior and the variables of which it was a function as these contributed to and clarified our understanding of the behavioral effects of drugs. Appreciation of and emphasis on behavior as more than a passive transmitter of drug action crucial to the evolution of the field Sophisticated understanding of both behavioral processes and pharmacological principles, coupled with forcefulness and inspirational aspects of writing AN OUTSIDER ON THE INSIDE – P B Dews

36 Peter Dews 1964 Humors Proceedings of Americal Philosophical Society - Psychology: A Behavioral Reinterpretation In principle, a behavioral reinterpretation of psychology shows the way to a reconciliation and ultimate union of psychopharmacology and neuropharmacology. Behavioral psychology must insist on operational definitions and objective measurements. The resulting rigor will permeate psychopharmacology. Meanwhile, the pseudopsychological variables of some neuropharmacologists can be supplanted by carefully defined and measured attributes of behavior. Psychopharmacology and neuropharmacology thus become compatible parts of biological science.

37 Integrating psychological and neurobiological in CBS  in ACT / BA / FAP clinical practice The dangers of moving across levels without care: 1. Hiding ignorance “mindfulness” at one level of analysis in ‘concrete knowledge’ at other levels of analysis – “we ‘know’ what this scan / chemical etc is / does / means” 2. The appeal of reductionism – “that’s ‘why’ it changes behavior” The possibilities of research / clinical behavior across levels of analysis: 1. Seeing / acting clinically on consistent processes 2. An integrated fabric of science and clinician practice

38 The Vision of Contextual Neuroscience = the vision of behavioral pharmacology Place neurobiological evidence inside a larger effort understanding situated actions of whole organisms, focusing on the depth of psychological processes known to be important Including especially transformative human verbal processes, i.e. arbitrarily applicable derived relational responding  RFT = leaving the animal lab for FC neuro / pharma ???

39 Learning and language–Mecca Chiesa identifying a slippery problem Language of learning is often grounded in metaphors of storage and retrieval, informing cognitive or information-processing traditions. “Processing information is, of course, something people have done for thousands of years..... Cognitive scientists have taken this practice as a model or metaphor” BF Skinner, 1985 The scientist is directed toward a stimulus – organism – response (S – O – R) account: but “when physical records are stored, the records exist until they are retrieved, but is that true when people ‘process information’?” BF Skinner 1985. A storage battery might be a better metaphor to guide psychology. Electricity is put into a battery that is not stored there. Rather the battery is changed, and it is changed battery that puts out electricity.

40 Relevance to FC neuroscienceRelevance to FC neuroscience An organism is changed by its exposure to contingencies of reinforcement, and it is a changed organisms that emits behaviour. “Organisms do not acquire behaviour as a kind of possession: they simply come to behave in various ways. The behaviour is not ‘in them’ at any time.” “How organisms are changed by contingencies of reinforcement is the field of a behavioural analysis. What is happening inside is a question to be answered by neurology, with appropriate instruments and methods” BF Skinner 1985 The purpose of answering questions in neuroscience must be critically examined. The behaviour of the scientist is not outside the behavioural stream. The values and purposes which are guiding their science directs the outcomes of that science and the ways in which it is used

41 Some Thoughts on the Relation between Behaviour Analysis and Behavioural Neuroscience. Jay Moore, The Psychological Record 2002

42 Resolving the problem of reductionismResolving the problem of reductionism

43 The complementarity of behaviour analysis and functional contextual neuroscience I

44 The complementarity of behaviour analysis and functional contextual neuroscience II Propadeutic = Providing introductory instruction

45 Problems with ordinary language and science – Mecca Chiesa cont... Ordinary verbal behaviour precede scientific verbal behaviour, and ordinary language terms provide ready-made conceptual classifications that guide and direct the scientific investigation of behaviour. Our everyday language contains prescientific assumptions and classifications that may or may not be useful for a scientific analysis of behaviour. We consider it unwise to adopt ordinary language terms uncritically noting that those terms themselves can influence the behaviour of scientists and may bring with them unnecessary problems. Analysis of the relation between ordinary language and science is an important part of the strategy of functional contextualism.

46 Problems with ordinary language and scienceProblems with ordinary language and science Analysis of the relation between ordinary language and science is an important part of the strategy of functional contextualism. For instance Fletcher’s and Hayes article " Searching for Mindfulness in the Brain” looks closely at precise behavioural definition of the term mindfulness... “defined not merely by self-reports of subjective state but rather by what people do (in each of 4 clinically relevant processes)” “Rather than saddling neurobiology alone with the task of substituting for an adequate psychological account, the neurobiological evidence built on studying these processes will rest on relatively solid psychological ground. Thus, such neurobiological evidence will examine the precision, scope, and especially the depth of these concepts across levels of analysis. We hope that this analysis will lead to a progressive multidisciplinary program of research that builds on the many advances that have already been made in both of these fields.”

47 Precision, scope and DEPTH in 2011Precision, scope and DEPTH in 2011 In conducting direct study of the relations between behaviour and neuronal events, or environmental influences on neuronal events, any theorising about relations ought to occur in the context of direct experimental interactions with events about which one is theorising. That is, theorising about neurology ought to involve direct interaction with neuronal events. This level of scientific analysis of neuronal events in their relationship to behaviour is now possible. Mike Schlund et al, "Human avoidance and approach learning: Evidence for overlapping neural systems and experiential avoidance modulation of avoidance neurocircuitry." Behavioural Brain Research 2011. This paper is an outstanding example wherein the fundamental tenets of functional contextualism are entirely adhered with, inside important, basic FC neuroscientific research.

48 Precision, scope and DEPTH - the futurePrecision, scope and DEPTH - the future Language is critical. For instance, "Advances in our understanding of the brain mechanisms supporting human approach learning under positive reinforcement have motivated complementary research on the brain mechanisms supporting human avoidance learning and learned avoidance under negative reinforcement.“ Schlund et al, BBS 2011 Cf underlying mechanisms, mental illness...a disorder of brain circuitry The behaviour analyst 1 st author of the above Mike Schlund is 2 nd author of a basic experimental Relational Frame Theory article appearing this same month in Behaviour Research and Therapy. “ Inferred threat and safety: Symbolic generalisation of human avoidance learning“ Making significant contributions at different levels of analysis in relation to the same event field, the examination of the behaviour of a whole organism in relation to its situational and historical context  the fruit of functional contextualism.

49 SIMILAR DIRECTIONS from non FC researchers Adult neurogenesis: Optimizing hippocampal function to suit the environment Glasper at al, Behavioural and Brain Sciences 2011.... proposes adaptive significance to experience-dependent alterations in new neuron formation... the modulation of adult neurogenesis, as well as the associated microcircuitry by experience prepares the hippocampus to meet the specific demands of an environment that is predictably similar to one that existed previously. Reduced neurogenesis that occurs with persistent exposure to a high threat environment produces a hippocampus that is more likely to respond with behavior that maximizes the chance of survival. Enhanced neurogenesis that occurs with continual exposure to a rewarding environment leads to behavior that optimizes the chances of successful reproduction. The persistence of this form of plasticity throughout adulthood may provide the neural substrate for adaptive responding to both stable and dynamic environmental conditions.

50 FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISMFUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM an approach that satisfies scientists and practitioners unites biological, cognitive and behavioural psychology along with evolutionary science in a way that opens exciting directions in our ability to understand how people work and how to help them.

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