Examining the Effectiveness of Observed & Derived Pathways of Avoidance
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Examining the Effectiveness of Observed & Derived Pathways of Avoidance Document Transcript

  • 1. Abstract This study compared aversive learning through solely social observational learning and derived avoidance learning using a recorded learning model video where they receiving a mild electric shock when a selected circle (CS+) is shown on-screen. The stimulus will predict the delivery of shock (CS+) whilst another contextually similar stimulus will present no negative consequences (CS-). Participants are instructed of an avoidance behaviour response (AV+).The inferred condition participants will be presented with RCP trials of non- arbitrary and arbitrary training and testing of Same and Opposite relations, as shown in Dymond et al., (2008) study, to test for transformation of functions and derived relational responding in later trials i.e. avoidance acquisition and extinction. The between- subject factor Group has two levels; observed and inferred. Two within- subject factors (1) Conditioned Stimulus, which has two levels: CS+ and CS-. (2) Learned Behaviour which has two levels: Avoidance (AV) and Non-Avoidance (NAV). Thus combination of the three factors created six experimental conditions. The DerivedCS+ will be compared against the inferred response rates of CS+ and CS-. There were three dependent variables: Avoidance behaviour responses of the shock in each phase, expectancy of shock taken from Likert scales at the end of each phase, and AAQ-II results. Comparing Observed EXT CS+ and CS- and Inferred EXT CS+ and CS-; no significant differences were found between the learning groups and conditioned stimuli, showing the two learning groups were just as effective as each other in producing a fear- evoked avoidance response. In a 2*2*2 multi-way mixed ANOVA, results showed significant main effects for conditioned stimuli, learned behaviour and learning group. Comparing group against conditioned stimuli and learned behaviour (Figure 8 and 9) it is clear that Observed rated higher in expectancy of shock to both, this could be attributed to the 1
  • 2. observed group understanding the CS-US contingency and the value of CS- more than the Inferred group. In conclusion, the study found that observed group may have been taught through direct means, by watching the learning model in the avoidance acquisition phase. Future studies would amend this. The inferred condition was successful as derived relational responding was produced. 2
  • 3. A common debate in the topic of fear learning is how fear is firstly acquired, be it through direct or indirect means. Fear acquisitions to environmental stimuli are fundamental to the fight or flight mechanism, thus essential for survival of human and non-humans alike. Understanding fear conditioning will develop and strengthen the understanding of phobias and anxiety disorders to help build clinical models (Barot, Chung, Kim & Bernstein, 2009; Field, 2006). The first model of classical fear conditioning was coined Pavlovian conditioning and suggested fear acquisition of an object can only surface through first-hand experience with an aversive stimulus (Olsson, Nearing & Phelps, 2007; Siddle & Bond, 1988). The individual, be it human or non-human, acquires a conditioned fear response (CR) to a formerly neutral stimulus (CS) through direct experience pairing with an aversive occurrence, the unconditioned stimulus (US). This acquisition was thought to be maintained by a two-factor theory i.e. the escape from the CS and instant decrease in fear eliciting factors. This model is famously illustrated in the ‘Little Albert’ study (Watson & Rayner, 1920) where they conditioned a fear response to a previously neutral CS i.e. white rabbit/rat/dog, by pairing CS-US (loud noise). Results showed Little Albert generalised and elicited a fear response not only to white rabbit etc., but also Santa Claus and white hair. Research has shown that the amygdala is essential in the acquisition, storage and expression of the conditioned fear (Davis & Whalen, 2001; Kim & Jung, 2006; Olsson et al., 2007). Barot, Kyono, Clark & Bernstein’s (2008) study showed clear visualisations of neurons within the amygdala receiving CS-US convergence information, during acquisition phase of a learned association. Barot et al., (2009) study showed the interaction of the amygdala and the hippocampus, where the hippocampus processes and transmits contextual CS information to the amygdala i.e. hippocampus is responsible for contextual learning whilst amygdala responsible for cue learning (Olsson & Phelps, 2007; Phillips & LeDoux, 3
  • 4. 1992). Damage to these areas is coupled with reports of CS-US contingency learning but inhibition of autonomic response (LaBar, LeDoux, Spencer & Phelps, 1995). Delgado, Jou, Ledoux & Phelps (2009) also illustrated the role of the striatum due to its reward-related processing ability to rule emotions and avoid negative outcomes. Participants were instructed upon seeing the aversive stimulus they could avoid shock by choosing the correct action (AV+). This depicts a mechanism of active coping, where the striatum exerts control over the emotional responses to influence the decision making (Delgado, Li, Schiller & Phelps, 2008; LeDoux & Gorman, 2001; Schultz, 2006). These studies clearly illustrate the networks of learning paradigms, storage and reinforcer types. However, over the years research grew and the understanding that fear can only be acquired through direct means was soon diminished. The Pavlovian Model was suggested to be extended to consider indirect forms. Field (2006) suggested two pathways of avoidance; (1) vicarious (observational) learning and (2) verbal information i.e. instructions. Another issue with the Pavlovian Model was the two-factor theory. Seligman (1968) developed a variation of the model and described the safety-signal theory, which considered an acquired conditioned emotional response (CER) only to a signal that predicted the onset of shock, for any other signal a conditioned response of pressing for food was shown. (Lovibond, Chen, Mitchell & Weidemann, 2011). The safety-signal theory can be applied to this present study as it is the intention that participants will produce an avoidance response to the CS-US contingency and not for any other stimuli, unless derived. Humans’ current socio-cultural environment can present indirect means of obtaining fearful stimuli through verbal communications and social modulation i.e. expressions, imitation etc. Mineka & Cook (1993) hypothesized that indirect fear learning is procedurally the same as direct fear learning, and can be just as effective. This happens by the observation of another’s reaction to the CS acting as a US. Others reaction elicits anxiety and therefore a 4
  • 5. fear response; similarly seen in non-human studies such as monkeys (Cook & Mineka, 1990). Non-human studies have shed light onto indirect fear learning by showing their abilities to perceive and react accordingly to external signs of fear and pain. The neural workings aid in assigning and raising awareness of a threat value to context or cue associated with the threat (Hauser, 1996; Kavaliers, Choleris, Colwell, 2001). Social learning of aversive stimuli through a learning model can be explained through several means but for this study the concentration will be on imitation and empathy. In relation to empathy; Knapska, Mikosz, Werka & Maren (2009) showed socially transmitted fear in rats through social interaction. If a rat had previously interacted with a recently fear-conditioned partner, they exhibited defensive behaviour during the novel task, hypothesizing the social interaction acted as a US leading the rats to empathize. Kavaliers et al., (2001) studied mice and their socially mediated acquisition of fear to the aversive stimulus of biting flies. ‘Observer’ mice watched ‘demonstrator’ mice being bit by flies and for avoidance exhibited analgesia and self-burying. When exposed to non-biting flies, the observer mice displayed the conditioned analgesia and self-burying as observed from before. This imitation has also been shown in humans. Self-reports from children about their unexplained fear of the dark/animals explain they are developed from observing their parents fearful emotions in contextual situations (Mineka & Zinbarg, 2006). This was shown in Gerull & Rapee (2002) when mother displays negative facial expressions towards novel stimuli, the odds of toddler imitating fearful expressions and avoidance behaviour increases. Helsen, Goubert, Peters & Vlaeven (2011) demonstrated the effects of observational learning on pain related fear and if it was associated with increased pain ratings. Self-reports of fear of pain and expected pain ratings were taken after observing a learning model, whilst actual pain and avoidance measures were taken post-exposure, and found observing another person performing the task ended in a higher reporting of intense and unpleasant pain. Guzmán, 5
  • 6. Tronson, Guedea, Huh, Gao, & Radulovic (2009) showed that even though models on humans and non-humans have shown that observational learning instils fearful conditioning after observing others it can also ease some forms of fear. In fear conditioning mice, they found a social buffering process served to prevent a long-term induction of fear to stressful events. This was also shown by Egliston & Rapee (2007) when investigating fear and avoidance learning for toddlers in three conditions (1) modelling group – positive feedback from mother about aversive stimuli (2) exposed to aversive stimuli alone (3) control group. All toddlers were then exposed to observational conditioning trial where the experimenter reacted fearfully of the aversive stimuli. Results showed toddlers in (1) were more likely to show positive affective reactions in comparison to the other groups, showing the power of positive parental reactions, a social buffer, to fear evoking stimuli which can over-ride negative reactions. All past literature shows fears learned through observational learning engage in the same neural mechanisms as direct learning, signifying indirect means may be just as effective and powerful as direct fear conditioning. Another form of indirect learning is inferred/derived relational responding which can be best explained through the relational frame theory (RFT) which proposes that humans transfer fear and avoidance responses across stimuli (Barnes-Holmes, Barnes-Holmes, Smeets, Cullinan & Leader, 2004; Healy, Barnes-Holmes & Smeets, 2000). An important process which can be undermined is the verbal and language processes which contribute to the avoidance response of indirect conditioning i.e. if a person has a spider phobia, but has never directly had fear-evoking experiences with a spider, the word ‘spider’ can act as a CS. Upon hearing the word ‘spider’, the individual elicits an alarmed response and seeks avoidance. This transfer of stimulus functions can also be seen through topographically different ‘spider-like’ stimuli i.e. real-life spiders, pictures, etc. The effect of verbal 6
  • 7. information has been shown to result from associate learning (Dymond & Rehfeldt, 2000; Field, 2006). By the functional definition of verbal events, there is the possibility of a contribution of indirectly acquired human avoidance learning in two concepts: derived relational responding and the transformation of functions. Augustson & Dougmer (1997) illustrated transformation of avoidance functions through training an ‘aversive class’ A1-B1-C1-D1 and a ‘non-aversive class’ A2-B2-C2-D2 then Pavlovian conditioning coupled B1 with shock and B2 without. A differential signalled avoidance task was issued where participants could avoid shock by pressing a key in relation to B1 appearing. Results showed that all participants during stimulus presentations of the aversive class elicited avoidance responses in comparison of non-aversive class, which they did not. This study was the first of its kind to depict how avoidance can be present in the absence of direct conditioning. This transformation of functions, i.e. establishing a particular behavioural response for one stimuli of an equivalence relation and then transferring the function for its multiple relations, was also seen in Forsyth, Eifert & Barrios’ (2006) study where by training A-B and B-C, participants derived B-A, C-B, A-C and C-A. If ‘B’ was paired with a fear-evoking response, then participants would derive to produce fearful behaviour for ‘A’ as well as the trained relation of ‘C’. RFT also proposes other forms of transfer of avoidance, other than stimulus equivalence based accounts, such as the relational frames of Same and Opposite can be learnt by humans (Dymond, Roche, Forsyth, Whelan & Rhoden, 2007; Dymond, S., Roche, B., Forsyth, J. P., Whelan, R., & Rhoden, J. 2008; Whelan & Barnes-Holmes, 2004). Dymond et al., (2008) study exposed participants to a relational completion procedure (RCP) of non- arbitrary and arbitrary testing and training to establish Same and Opposite and derived relations, which has been shown to be an effective procedure (Dymond & Whelan, 2010). Participants were taught all possible Same and Opposite relations of A1-B1-C1 and A2-B2- 7
  • 8. C2 which was followed by an avoidance conditioning procedure where the participants learnt to escape the discriminative stimulus (SD ) of aversive images and sounds by pressing the space bar and not omitting the same avoidance response to B2. They were also tested for transformation of functions for C1 and C2 and found participants that learnt the transformation of functions also displayed correct derived relational responding, this depicts the ability of humans to complete this task. The aim of this study is to examine the effectiveness of observed and derived relational learning on pathways of avoidance by exposing each participant to a fear and avoidance conditioning phase. The observed group will watch a video of a learning model completing a Pavlovian conditioning and avoidance acquisition phase. The video depicts a learning model receiving a mild electric shock when a selected circle (CS+) is shown on the screen; where the learning models facial expressions and arm movements whilst receiving the shock will serve as the US. The stimulus will predict the delivery of shock (CS+) whilst another contextually similar stimulus will present no negative consequences (CS-). Participants are instructed that they can avoid the CS+ if they choose the correct button (AV+). The inferred condition participants will be presented with RCP trials of non-arbitrary and arbitrary training and testing of Same and Opposite relations, as shown in Dymond et al., (2008) study, to test for transformation of functions and derived relational responding in later trials i.e. avoidance acquisition and extinction. The participants will have the AV+ option to avoid the upcoming CS+ shock. The participant’s expectancy of the shock on stimuli will be recorded through Likert Scales and its two factors of Avoidance and Non-Avoidance, at the end of certain phases (see Method). Bass, van Ooijen, Goudriann & Kenemans (2008) showed that a failure to learn the CS-US contingency would result in a higher contextual fear, and then participants would self- report higher levels of anxiety, which was confirmed by skin conductance (SCR) measures, 8
  • 9. any indiscrepancies will be followed up in the data. Behavioural avoidance will be recorded through percentage scores for each participant from eliciting an avoidance response for CS+ and CS- for each appropriate phase. An Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II; Bond et al., 2011) will be undertaken by each participants. AAQ-II is a reliable psychometric 7-item scale to measure participant’s willingness to experience unwanted private events in the intention to reach individual goals and values i.e. ‘My painful memories prevent me from having a fulfilling life’ which participants would rate from 1=never true to 7=always true. López et al., (2010) found that people with high AAQ-II scores displayed a higher number of thought intrusions and higher susceptibility to a lower concentration level to the task at hand; this will be considered for any rogue data. The results of AAQ-II will be tested against behavioural avoidance responses to test for any correlations. An interaction between group (observed vs. inferred) and the three dependent variables (DV) of avoidance behaviour responses of the shock, expectancy of shock and AAQ-II will show any superior effectiveness of each group. The IV is conditioned stimuli (CS+, CS-). This study based upon a two-way hypothesis as it is searching for the effectiveness of each learning group. 9
  • 10. Method Participants A total of sixty participants (21 males and 39 females), were randomly placed in either the observed or inferred condition, with 30 in each condition. All recruited participants had English as their first language and were aged between 19-40 years old (M= 21.9, SD = 3.91). They were recruited via opportunistic, personal contacts and Swansea University’s Subject Pool. All participants were given an information sheet and a consent form (Appendix 1) before participating in the study, and they were given a debrief form at the end (Appendix 2). They participated in return for either course credit or £5. Design The between- subject factor is Group which has two levels: observed (30 participants) and inferred (30 participants). There are two within-subject factors (1) Conditioned Stimulus which has two levels: CS+ and CS-. (2) Learned Behaviour which has two levels: Avoidance (AV) and Non-Avoidance (NAV). Thus combination of the three factors created six experimental conditions. The DerivedCS+ will be compared against the inferred response rates of CS+ and CS-. There are three dependent variables: Avoidance behaviour responses of the shock in each phase, expectancy of shock (taken from Likert scales at the end of each phase), and AAQ-II results. (Appendix 3). Apparatus The computer system was Microsoft Windows XP Professional Version 2002 on a 17’’ LCD colour monitor, 1024 by 768 resolution. The computer program was written in Visual Basic® 6.0 which controlled all stimulus presentations and recorded all responses for both conditions. The electrode was 5cm in diameter, the program used for the production of electric shocks was PowerLab 2/25 Chart 5 for Windows. 10
  • 11. Stimuli Observed Condition A movie was produced for the observation stage of the experiment. The movie (3 min, 8s) depicted a male participant (the learning model) participating in a differential fear conditioning experiment (Figure 1). Two coloured circles (red and blue) served as CS and were presented in pseudo-random order for 3s on a computer screen in front of the learning model. The appearance of the circles was incorporated with an inter-stimulus interval (ITI) which varied between 4 and 7 s. Each coloured circle was presented six times through Phase 2 and 3. Six presentations of the colour circle serving as the CS+ were coupled with an uncomfortable shock to the left wrist of the learning model, where the model then displayed signs of distress i.e. tensing of the left arm, lowering of the eyebrows (US); whereas CS- was never paired with a shock. The level of shock was selected by the learning model to be uncomfortable but not painful prior to the recording of the video. In Phase 3, the participants viewed the learning model being able to cancel the upcoming shocks by pressing the button ‘M’ on the keyboard. Fig. 1. A snapshot from the movie presented to participants during the Pavlovian avoidance stage, showing the model facing a computer screen that presented the CS+ and CS-. Inferred Condition For the RCP trials, two stimuli in ‘wingdings’ font were used as contextual cues for Same (i.e.) and Opposite (i.e.). Six nonsense syllables were employed as sample and comparisons during relational training and testing, i.e. ZID, PAF, JOM, BEH, DAX, QAF. These are clarified using alphanumerics i.e. A1, B1, B2, C1, C2, N2. An N2 stimulus, if 11
  • 12. selected, was never reinforced. In Phases 4 – 7, B1, B2, C1 and C2 were used to test derived relations. Six presentations of the nonsense word serving as the CS+ were coupled with an uncomfortable shock to the non-dominant arm of the participant, which they set before the trials to be uncomfortable but not painful, whereas CS- and DerivedCS+ was never paired with a shock. Procedure Observed Condition General Procedure: On arrival to the lab, participants were given an information sheet depicting what was expected of them during the study and the use of shocks, any ailment issues which would mean termination of their participation, and if they wanted to opt out at any time they could do so with no penalties. If they agreed, then a consent form was signed, the AAQ-II questionnaire (M=17.13, SD=8.5) was counterbalanced so was either presented at this point or at the end of the experiment. Participants were then sat in front of a computer and an electrode was attached to the non-dominant arm and held in place by an elasticized bandage. Shock was set by the participants to a level that was uncomfortable but not painful (M= 0.51, SD= 0.2) starting a 0.250mA and working up in increments of 0.5. The participants were exposed to four conditions (1) Habituation (2) Pavlovian Avoidance (3) Avoidance Acquisition; and (4) Extinction. Phases (2) and (3) were observed by the participant watching the pre-recorded video of the learning model. Phase 1: Habituation Three presentations of CS+ and CS- were presented where the participant simply watched the screen. See Appendix 4 for computer instructions throughout both observed and inferred conditions. 12
  • 13. Phase 2: Pavlovian Avoidance (PA) and Phase 3: Avoidance Acquisition (AA) Participants observed the learning model completing the Pavlovian Avoidance stage where each circle was presented six times and the CS+ circle administered shocks to the learning model. Participants then observed the learning model completing the Avoidance Acquisition stage where the model learnt to cancel the upcoming shocks when the CS+ circle appeared on the screen by pressing the ‘M’ key on the keyboard. Phase 4: Extinction (EXT) This was the testing phase, where 5 presentations of the coloured circles were presented but in a different order to the one shown in the video. Essentially, no shocks were administered to the participant during this phase to ensure learning was acquired through indirect, social means only. At the end of testing, participants were presented with a Likert Scale with four questions; (CS+ is in italics and will keep throughout the method) (1) To what extent do you expect a shock when the red circle is presented and you do press a key? (2) To what extent do you expect a shock when the red circle is presented and you do NOT press a key? (3) To what extent do you expect a shock when the blue circle is presented and you do press a key? (4) To what extent do you expect a shock when the blue circle is presented and you do NOT press a key? Participants could rate their answers between -3 (very unlikely) to 3 (very likely). Ratings are the same for all Likert Scales in both conditions. At the end of the experiment, subjects were given a debrief form. Inferred Condition On arrival to the lab, participants were given an information sheet depicting what was expected of them during the study and the use of shocks, any ailment issues which would mean termination of their participation, and if they wanted to opt out at any time they could do so with no penalties. If they agreed, then a consent form was signed, the AAQ-II questionnaire (M=15.63, SD=6.02) was counterbalanced so was either presented at this point 13
  • 14. or at the end of the experiment. The participants were exposed to eight conditions (1) Non- Arbitrary Training (2) Non-Arbitrary Testing (3) Arbitrary Training (4) Arbitrary Testing (5) Habituation (6) Pavlovian Avoidance (7) Avoidance Acquisition; and (8) Extinction. Phase 1 – 4 used RCP to train and test same and opposite relations and derived relationships. RCP General Procedure; Clicking on a tick box at the bottom of the screen began the experiment for the participants. A sample picture/nonsense words appeared on the top left corner of the screen, after 1s the contextual cue (i.e. or) appeared in the upper centre, and after another 1s a blank yellow square would appear on the top right corner of the screen. Three comparison stimuli appeared on the bottom section of the screen. A selection could be made by clicking the right mouse button on the intended picture and dragging to the black yellow square, then releasing the mouse button. When this happened, two red buttons appeared on the bottom of the screen that displayed the options, ‘Finish Trial’ or ‘Start Again’. Pressing the ‘Start Again’ button refreshed the page to where all the stimuli were at the start of the trial for the opportunity for another selection. Pressing the ‘Finish Trial’ button cleared the screen and either produced a feedback screen during training phases, where if the correct selection was made, the word ‘Correct’ was displayed, otherwise the word ‘Wrong’ was displayed. The intertribal interval (ITI) of 3 seconds then happened, until the next trial began. Phase 1: Non-Arbitrary Relational Training Phase 1 and 2 are non-arbitrary training and testing intended to establish same and opposite labelling for the contextual cues. The samples and comparisons stimuli were non- arbitrary (formally related) and choosing the stimulus that was either the same or opposite of the sample was reinforced. For instance, if a participant was shown a ‘smiley face’ as the sample and the opposite contextual cue was shown, the selecting the ‘frowning face’ as the comparison was reinforced, likewise if the same contextual cue was shown, and the same 14
  • 15. ‘smiley face’ comparison was selected. There were six stimulus sets (shown in Table 1), presented in a random order for each participant. When participants produced eight consecutively correct responses, they then progressed onto Phase 2. Table 1 Stimulus sets used during Phase 1 and 2, and the physical dimensions of each stimulus set. Physical Dimension Description End 1 End 2 Phase 1 Squares Black White Lines Short Long Smiley Face Frowning Smiling Cubes Small Big Trees Small Big Red Disk Sections Thin Crescent Full disk Phase 2 Columns Narrow Wide Wavy lines Small amp. Big amp. Snowstorm No snow Whiteout Buildings Small Big Pointed Star 3 points 20 points Bowed Trees Straight Very bowed. Phase 2: Non-Arbitrary Relational Testing Phase 2 followed the same design as Phase 1, except the crucial removal of feedback of responses, and was just followed by the ITI. Six new stimulus sets were used which were presented in a random order. Participants were required to respond correct consistently across all eight trails to be exposed to Phase 3, failure resulted in re-exposure to Phase 1. Phase 3: Arbitrary Relational Training Phase 3 and 4 are arbitrary training and testing intended to establish same and opposite relations of sample and comparison stimuli of an arbitrary nature (trigrams). For this example and throughout, it will be explained in this way; the contextual cue used will be stated in capitals, followed by the sample stimulus, and then followed by the three comparison stimuli options in brackets. The correct answer which would be reinforced will be shown in italics i.e. SAME/A1 (C2-C1-N2). The example demonstrates that in the 15
  • 16. presence of the contextual cue SAME and the sample stimulus A1, choosing C1 would have been reinforced, whereas choosing C2 and N2 would not have been. All participants were presented with the following four training trials: SAME/A1 (C2-C1-N2), SAME/A1 (N2-B1- B2), OPPOSITE/A1 (B2-N2-B1), OPPOSITE/A1 (C2-N2-C1). Training was presented in eight trials, with each trial presented twice. If participants made the correct answer they were given feedback by the word ‘Correct’ appearing on the screen. When participants produced eight consecutively correct answers they were immediately exposed to Phase 4. Phase 4: Arbitrary Relational Testing Phase 4 tested for the emergences of derived relations from the training of same and opposite. Figure 2 depicts the predicated relational network. Feedback was withheld during this phase, although the alphanumeric in italics is what the participants would choose if responding in accordance with the predicted relational network; the test trails were as follows; SAME/B1 (C2-C1-N2), SAME/B2 (C2-N2-C1), SAME/C1 (N2-B1-C2), SAME/C2 (C1-N2-B2), OPPOSITE/B1 (C2-C1-N2), OPPOSITE/B2 (C1-N2-C2), OPPOSITE/C1 (N2- C2-B2), and OPPOSITE/C2 (B1-B2-N2). The author would like to note that all possible probe trials i.e. B-C and C-B were tested during the arbitrary relational testing as in Dymond et al., (2008) paper. Testing was carried out for sixteen trials, with each task repeated twice per block. It was compulsory that participants produced a minimum score of 14/16 (87.5%) correct responses to pass. Failing to meet this measure they were immediately exposed to Phase 1 again and set to go through each trial until meeting the goal. 16
  • 17. Fig. 2. The predicted relational network of trained and tested stimuli. The alphanumerics represent the nonsense syllables used in the Phase 3 and the letters S and O indicate Same and Opposite. Solid lines signify trained relations whilst dashed lines signify derived relations. General Procedure #2 After meeting the criterion for the RCP trials, the electrode was attached to the non- dominant arm of the participant and held in place by an elasticized bandage. Shock was set by the participants to a level that was uncomfortable but not painful (M= 0.51, SD= 0.19) starting a 0.250mA and working up in increments of 0.05 Phase 5: Habituation Three presentations of CS+ and CS- were presented on to the screen, exposing participants to the stimuli. Phase 6: PA The participants sat comfortably whilst observing the screen, when the CS+ appeared a mild shock, which level was selected by the participant before, was administered to their arm through the electrode. They were exposed to each CS+ and CS- six times. In order to counterbalance which word served as the CSD+ and CS-, the program was edited to have either B1 or B2 as the CS+. After the phase was finished they were asked to complete a 17
  • 18. Likert Scale, the questions were as follows; (1) To what extent do you expect a shock when PAF is presented? (2) To what extent do you expect a shock when JOM is presented? Phase 7: AA The aim of this trial was to observe if participants would elicit a simple avoidance response during the presence of CS+ and not CS-. Six trials of the CS+ and CS- (B1 and/or B2) were presented to the participant with the option to avoid the shock by pressing the ‘M’ key on the keyboard. Participants had to cancel 5 consecutive shocks to pass onto the next phase. If they met the criterion they were passed onto Likert Scale questions; (1) To what extent do you expect a shock when PAF is presented and you do press a key? (2) To what extent do you expect a shock when PAF is presented and you do NOT press a key? (3) To what extent do you expect a shock when JOM is presented and you do press a key? (4) To what extent do you expect a shock when JOM is presented and you do NOT press a key? Then participants are finally exposed to the final phase. Phase 8: EXT This was the testing phase; 6 presentations of CS+ and CS- were presented alongside introducing the DerivedCS+ i.e. if CS+ was B1, using the predicted relational network the DerivedCS+ would be C1, same scenario if CS+ was B2 so the DerivedCS+ would be C2., so the aim of this phase is to test if participants have learnt the derived relations to elicit an avoidance response. Essentially, no shocks were administered to the participants during this phase to ensure learning was acquired through learned responses beforehand and also testing for derived relations. After this phase, they were presented with the last Likert Scale, which is similar to Phase 7 Likert Scale but with an important last two questions about the DerivedCS+; (1) To what extent do you expect a shock when PAF is presented and you do press a key? (2) To what extent do you expect a shock when PAF is presented and you do 18
  • 19. NOT press a key? (3) To what extent do you expect a shock when JOM is presented and you do press a key? (4) To what extent do you expect a shock when JOM is presented and you do NOT press a key? (5) To what extent do you expect a shock when BEH is presented and you do press a key? (6) To what extent do you expect a shock when BEH is presented and you do NOT press a key? At the end of the experiment, subjects were given a debrief form. 19
  • 20. Results Table 2 demonstrates the performance of participants throughout Inferred Phases 1 – 4 (RCP). 13/30 participants passed both non-arbitrary and arbitrary relational testing on their first exposure. P13 passed non-arbitrary testing after two exposures and passed arbitrary testing on their first exposure. 8/30 participants passed both non-arbitrary and arbitrary relational testing on their second exposure. 5/30 participants passed both non-arbitrary and arbitrary relational testing on their third exposure. The final 8/30 participants passed both non-arbitrary and arbitrary relational testing on their maximum fourth exposure. Therefore, all 30 participants were eligible to progress on the avoidance-conditioning phase. Table 2 Trials to Criterion and Percentage of Correct Responses in Phase 1 – 4 Participant Phase 1: Non- arbitrary Relational Training (trials to criterion) Phase 2: Non- arbitrary Relational Testing (%) Phase 3: Arbitrary Relational Training (trials to criterion) Phase 4: Arbitrary Relational Testing (%) 1 10 100 16 43.75 8 100 12 87.5 2 9 100 13 93.75 3 9 100 44 62.5 8 100 8 68.75 8 100 8 87.5 4 12 100 8 93.75 5 18 100 10 87.5 6 14 100 9 93.75 7 10 100 23 93.75 8 8 100 15 81.25 8 100 8 93.75 9 8 100 9 37.5 8 100 8 81.25 8 100 8 87.5 10 16 100 20 93.75 11 9 100 12 93.75 12 23 100 12 56.25 8 100 9 56.25 8 100 8 93.75 13 15 62.5 8 100 25 87.5 14 8 100 8 68.75 8 100 9 81.25 8 87.5 8 100 8 93.75 15 11 85.71 20
  • 21. 8 87.5 8 100 41 81.25 8 100 9 93.75 16 14 100 24 87.5 17 9 100 16 62.5 8 100 8 81.25 8 100 8 100 18 9 87.5 13 100 36 93.75 19 44 100 52 75 8 100 8 87.5 20 8 100 14 100 21 8 100 9 87.5 22 12 100 31 56.25 8 100 9 56.25 8 87.5 13 100 8 93.75 23 10 100 32 81.25 9 100 8 93.75 24 11 100 28 75 11 100 43 87.5 25 8 100 9 68.75 8 100 8 97.5 26 11 100 52 68.75 16 100 21 25 10 100 14 87.5 27 11 100 34 97.5 28 9 100 48 37.5 13 100 18 87.5 29 13 100 15 100 30 8 100 8 100 Descriptive Graphs Figure 3 displays the mean percentage of avoidance behaviour across both learning groups, (Observed: Phase 4; Inferred: Phases 7 & 8) and the three stimuli (CS+, CS- and DerivedCS+). The graph suggests a significant difference between CS+ and CS- for both learning groups and also depicts the emergence of derived learning from its similarity from the CS+ stimuli. The small standard error bars show low variability in avoidance response results. 21
  • 22. MeanAvoidanceBehaviour(%) Observed Inferred 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 CS+ CS- DerivedCS+ Fig. 3. Graph showing the mean avoidance behaviour (%) of participants in both learning groups. Figure 4 displays the mean expectancy of shock if they were to elicit an avoidance response, that was self-reported from participants through Likert Ratings across both learning groups (Observed: Phase 4; Inferred; Phases 6-8) and three stimuli (CS+, CS- and DerivedCS+). The graph suggests that Observed participants rated the expectancy of shock after an avoidance response higher than the Inferred group, the standard error shows great variability across both learning groups responses. MeanExpectancy+Avoidance Observed Inferred 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 CS+ CS- DerivedCS+ 22
  • 23. Fig. 4. Graph showing the mean expectancy of a shock when performing an avoidance response. Figure 5 displays the mean expectancy of shock if not eliciting an avoidance response. Results were self-reported by participants through Likert Ratings across both learning groups (Observed: Phase 4; Inferred; Phases 6-8) and three stimuli (CS+, CS- and DerivedCS+). The graph suggests a significant difference for both learning groups between CS+ and CS- as the former had a greater mean expectancy rate over the latter. It also depicts the emergence of derived learning from the similarity between the CS+ and DerivedCS+ stimuli. The standard error bars show low variability in both groups. MeanExpectancy+NonAvoidance Observed Inferred 0 2 4 6 8 CS+ CS- DerivedCS+ Fig. 5. Graph showing the mean expectancy of shock if participants across both learning groups did not perform an avoidance response. Aggregate Results Two independent samples t-tests were performed to examine the statistical evidence shown from the graphs. In each test, the percentage scores of avoidance responses of CS+ and CS- in the Observation EXT group were compared against Inferred EXT group. For these two tests, P 16 and 22 data were excluded for failure to meet the criterion. 23
  • 24. Firstly, Observed EXT CS+ was compared against Inferred EXT CS+. Considering the group statistics, there seemed to be very little difference in the means, which is confirmed using the top row of the t-test, as Levene’s test is insignificant (F=3.91, p=.053), showing an insignificant difference (Observed EXT group M=98.33, SD=5.09; Inferred EXT group M=99.40, SD=3.15; t(56)=.956, p=.343). Secondly; Observed EXT CS- was compared against Inferred EXT CS-, considering the group statistics, there was possibly a small difference in the means, and Levene’s test showed a significant difference (F=13.49, p=.001) between the variances of the two groups. Using the bottom row of the t-test, it can be concluded there is no significant difference between the means at the 5% significance level (Observed EXT group M=1.11, SD=4.23; Inferred EXT group M=4.17, SD=8.64; t(38.63)=1.69, p=.099). However, there is a weak significant difference at the 10% level, showing that the Observed group preformed marginally better than the Inferred, as they had a lower mean score. Overall, the independent t-tests showed Observed and Inferred learning groups were both as effective for eliciting avoidance behaviour. Six paired samples t-tests were conducted to study the percentage scores of avoidance responses of CS+ and CS-, and to test the emergence of a derived relational response in Inferred EXT phase. They also tested the expectancy of shock Likert Scale ratings for the Inferred condition. Observed EXT CS+ was compared against Observed EXT CS-. At the 10% significance level there was a weak negative correlation (correlation=.356, p=.053) between CS+ and CS- showing participants that elicited a avoidance response on CS+, did not on CS-, as was expected. This is supported by the descriptive statistical means and a significant difference in the t-test (Observed EXT CS+ M=98.33, SD=5.09; Observed EXT CS- M=1.11, SD=4.23; t(29)=69.29, p=.000). 24
  • 25. Inferred AA CS+ was compared against Inferred AA CS-. P16 data was excluded for failure to meet the criterion. Samples statistics shows CS+ had a higher mean avoidance response over CS-, showing a higher proportion of participants showed learnt behaviour and cancelled the upcoming shocks, over the CS-. Also supported by the t-test showing a significant difference (Inferred AA CS+ M=93.75, SD=12.52; Inferred AA CS- M=2.08, SD=5.6; t(31)=40.83, p=.000). Inferred EXT CS+ was compared against Inferred EXT CS-. P16 and 22 data were excluded for failure to meet the criterion. The samples statistics indicate a significant difference between the CS+ and CS- from the mean avoidance response, and this is confirmed by the t-test showing a significant difference. This shows that participants produced the avoidance response by learning the correct relation (Inferred EXT CS+ M=99.40, SD=3.15; Inferred EXT CS- M=4.17, SD=8.64; t(27)=56.57, p=.000). Inferred EXT DerivedCS+ was compared against Inferred EXT CS+ to test for emergences of derived relations. P16 and 22 data were excluded for failure to meet the criterion. The samples statistics indicate no significant difference between CS+ and DerivedCS+ and is confirmed by the t-test showing no significant difference. Results illustrate derived transformation of functions emerged and were as effective as CS+ stimuli (Inferred EXT Derived CS+ M=95.24, SD=19.7; Inferred EXT CS+ M=99.4, SD=3.15; t(27)=1.1, p=.282). Inferred EXT DerivedCS+ was compared against Inferred EXT CS-. P16 and 22 data were excluded for failure to meet the criterion. Samples statistics suggested a significant difference, and was confirmed by the t-test showing a significant difference. This shows that participants produced the avoidance response by learning the correct derived relation to CS+ therefore learning to cancel the upcoming shock, as would be expected under CS+ (Inferred 25
  • 26. EXT DerivedCS+ M=95.24, SD=19.7; Inferred EXT CS- M=4.17, SD=8.64; t(31)=40.83, p=.000). The final paired samples t-test was conducted on the Inferred PA Likert Scales showing expectancy of shock when presented with the contextual stimuli. The sample statistics illustrate a significant difference, and the t-test confirms. This shows that the participants rated the correct CS+ higher than the CS- on expectancy of shock (PA CS+ M=5.93, SD=.254; PA CS- M=.133, SD=.434; t(29)=57.67, p=.000). A Pearson’s r test was conducted to investigate any correlations between AAQ-II data and learnt behaviour. However, there were no significant correlations identified between: Observed AAQ-II scores and Observed EXT CS+ (r= -.114, N=30. P=.548); Observed AAQ- II and Observed EXT CS- (r= .219, N=30, p=.244); Inferred AAQ-II scores and Inferred EXT CS+ (r= -.008, N=30, p=.966); or between Inferred AAQ-II scores and Inferred EXT CS- (r=.200, N=30, p=.290). This shows there is no relationship between AAQ-II scores and avoidance responses of CS+ or CS-. The total number of responses in the Inferred AA Likert Scales for each of our within subject experimental conditions was entered into a 2 (CS+, CS-) x 2 (AV, NAV) multi-way within subjects ANOVA. Results showed a significant main effect of Conditioned Stimuli (F(1,29)=108.38, p=.000), showing that conditioned stimuli had a significant effect on the expectancy of shock. Another significant main effect of Learned Behaviour (F(1,29)=73.9, p=.000) also showed learned behaviour effects expectancy of shock. A significant interaction was shown between Conditioned Stimuli*Learned Behaviour (F(1,29)=126.68, p=.000). Figure 6 shows participants understood the significance of the avoidance behaviour. The difference in the estimated marginal means for AV and NAV for CS+ shows that participants learnt the importance of the avoidance response, whereas for CS- where the results are 26
  • 27. similar for AV and NAV, participants learnt that they wouldn’t get shocked regardless of avoidance response. Fig. 6. Estimated marginal means of expectancy scores displaying the interaction between Conditioned Stimuli and Learned Behaviour. Post-hoc tests (paired samples t-test) were conducted to further investigate these interactions. Results showed the mean difference between CS+NAV was significantly larger for CS+AV (t(29)=11.43, p=.000), this showed that participants learnt the effectiveness of the avoidance behaviour to reduce the expectancy of shock. There was no significant mean difference between CS-AV and CS-NAV (t(29)=.432, p=.669) and no significant mean difference between CS+AV and CS-AV (t(29)=1.18, p=.247). These both show that participants learnt when to expect a shock and the appropriate avoidance response. There was 27
  • 28. a significant mean difference between CS+NAV and CS-NAV (t(29)=21.13, p=.000) which illustrates that participants learnt the correct shock stimulus. The total number of responses in the Observed EXT and Inferred EXT Likert Scales for each of our six experimental conditions was entered into a 2 (observed, inferred) x 2 (CS+, CS-) x 2 (AV, NAV) multi-way mixed ANOVA. Results showed a significant main effect of the conditioned stimuli F(1,58)=299.34, p=.000), a significant main effect of learned behaviour (F (1,58)=114.35, p=.000) and a significant effect on learning group (F(1,58)=10.97, p=.002) which showed that which learning group the participant was in had a significant effect on the expectancy of shock. Within-subjects test showed a non-significant effect of group*conditioned stimuli interaction (F(1,58)=.148, p=.702); Non-significant effect of group*learnt behaviour interaction (F(1,58)=2.22, p=.141) and a significant interaction of condition stimuli*learnt behaviour (F(1,58)=201.38, p=.000). This interaction is shown in Figure 7 participants understood the significance of the avoidance behaviour. The difference in the estimated marginal means for AV and NAV for CS+ shows that participants learnt the importance of the avoidance response, whereas for CS- where the results are similar for AV and NAV, participants learnt that they wouldn’t get shocked regardless of avoidance response. The three-way interaction between conditioned stimuli*learnt behaviour*group was not significant (F (1,58)=.02, p=.889). 28
  • 29. Fig. 7. Estimated marginal means of expectancy scores from Observed EXT and Inferred EXT displaying the interaction between Conditioned Stimuli and Learned Behaviour. Figure 8 plots the group against conditioned stimuli whilst Figure 9 plots group against learned behaviour. Observed is rated higher in expectancy of shock for both conditioned stimuli and learned behaviour, showing that observed rated the expectancy of shock higher than Inferred. 29
  • 30. Fig. 8. Estimated marginal means of expectancy scores from Observed EXT and Inferred EXT displaying the interaction between Group and Conditioned Stimuli. 30
  • 31. Fig. 9. Estimated marginal means of expectancy scores from Observed EXT and Inferred EXT displaying the interaction between Group and Learned Behaviour. Post-hoc tests (independent t-test) were conducted to examine the main effects and the conditioned stimulus*learnt behaviour interaction; results showed no significant difference at the 5% but a weak significant difference at the 10% level between Observed CS+AV and Inferred CS+AV. Levene’s test showed significance in variance (F=5.68, p=.020) so the bottom row was used (t(52.87)=1.74, p=.088). A non-significant difference was shown between Observed CS+NAV and Inferred CS+NAV (t(58)=.297, p=.768). A significant difference was found between Observed CS-AV and Inferred CS-AV, Levene’s test (F=11.35, p=.001) showed bottom row to be used (t(47.8)=2.19, p=.033). And finally a non- significant difference was shown between Observed CS-NAV and Inferred CS-NAV, 31
  • 32. Levene’s test (F=10.79, p=.002) so bottom row was used (t(43.84)=1.58, p=.122). Discussion 32
  • 33. The aim of this present study was to examine the effectiveness of observed and inferred (derived) pathways of avoidance. Comparing Observed EXT CS+ and CS- and Inferred EXT CS+ and CS-; no significant differences were found between the learning groups and conditioned stimuli, showing the two learning groups were just as effective as each other in producing a fear-evoked avoidance response through indirect means. The findings suggest that observed and inferred pathways of avoidance are equally as effective as each other, and from past supporting literature can hypothesize as effective as direct Pavlovian fear conditioning. (Cook & Mineka, 1990; Dymond et al., 2007; Egliston & Rapee, 2007; Whelan & Barner-Holmes, 2004). The Observed condition was shown to be effective at inducing an avoidance response at the correct CS+ after viewing the video of the learning model in the similar task, which mirrors Mineka & Cook (1993) study findings. This was shown by comparing Observed EXT CS+ and CS-. There was a weak negative correlation showing participants that elicited an avoidance response on CS+ did not on CS-, which was to be expected. It could be hypothesized that the participants produced avoidance behaviour due to feeling empathy (Knapska et al., 2009; Olsson et al., 2007) or just due to imitation of the learning models avoidance response (Kavaliers et al., 2001) as 30/30 participants produced an avoidance response, but this can’t be fully proved without an fMRI scan during the task. There was no correlation found between AAQ-II scores and avoidance responses of CS+ or CS-. López et al., (2010) study was inconsistent with our findings as the participants data that had to be excluded from the Inferred condition actually had low AAQ-II scores (P16, AAQ-II = 12 and P22, AAQ-II = 9). 33
  • 34. For the inferred condition, RCP was shown to be effective in training same, opposite and derived relations as seen by 30/30 participants passing (Appendix 5) albeit first of final exposure. This supports Dymond & Whelan’s (2010) study of RCP being an effective procedure. Comparing Inferred EXT Derived CS+ against Inferred EXT CS+ no significance was found between the two stimuli, illustrating derived transformation of functions emerged and avoidance responses matched those of CS+. There was a significant difference shown between DerivedCS+ and CS- illustrating that participants again, learnt the derived relations and ignored the CS- stimuli in relation to an upcoming shock. These results support RFT, that participants transferred fear and avoidance responses across stimuli due to learning derived relational responding from the RCP (Barnes-Holmes et al., 2004, Healy et al., 2000). In the 2*2 within subjects ANOVA for the Inferred AA Likert scales, there was a significant main effect on conditioned stimuli and learnt behaviour showing both variables had an effect on the perception of the expectancy of shock. The significant interaction between conditioned stimuli*learned behaviour illustrates that participants learnt the correct contingency for CS+ and showed they understood they wouldn’t get shocked for CS- regardless of avoidance response. Post-hoc tests showed that participants understood the effectiveness of the avoidance behaviour to reduce the expectancy of shock. In the final 2*2*2 multi-way mixed ANOVA, results showed significant main effects for conditioned stimuli, learned behaviour and learning group. Comparing conditioned stimuli and learning group the only significant interaction was between Observed CS-AV and Inferred CS-AV which could show that participants in both conditions found the understood the significance of CS- and that they did not have to produce an avoidance response. 34
  • 35. Comparing group against conditioned stimuli and learned behaviour (Figure 8 and 9) it is clear that Observed rated higher in expectancy of shock to both, this could be attributed to the Observed group understanding the CS-US contingency and the value of CS- more than the Inferred group. The Observed condition was shown to be effective at inducing an avoidance response at the correct CS+ after viewing the video of the learning model in the similar task, which mirrors Mineka & Cook (1993) study findings. This was shown by comparing Observed EXT CS+ and CS-. There was a weak negative correlation showing participants that elicited an avoidance response on CS+ did not on CS-, which was to be expected. It could be hypothesized that the participants produced avoidance behaviour due to feeling empathy (Knapska et al., 2009; Olsson et al., 2007) or just due to imitation of the learning models avoidance response (Kavaliers et al., 2001) as 30/30 participants produced an avoidance response, but this can’t be fully proved without an fMRI scan during the task. However, a criticism of this condition is that the participants were exposed to fear- evoking stimuli and then immediately exposed to a directly taught avoidance response; this can be a serious limitation that could suggest the results may have been taught through direct means. The direct observation of the learning model completing the avoidance response in the presence of one stimuli and not the other will have affected the avoidance contingency and consequently influenced the avoidance behaviour. Research has demonstrated that explicit instruction is not needed to generate indirect observational fear learning (Guzmán et al., 2009; Helsen et al., 2011; Olsson et al., 2007). To improve on this condition, the participants would only be exposed to the learning model experiencing the Pavlovian Avoidance phase, then be exposed to Likert ratings and finally, the participant will experience avoidance acquisition phase with the same set of instructions given to the Inferred group avoidance acquisition phase (Appendix 4). This would ensure that the participants are 35
  • 36. being indirectly taught the CS-US contingency and then eliciting an avoidance behaviour response from that. The inferred condition results illustrate that participants showed transformation of functions for the DerivedCS+ from the CS+. This condition supports the ideas for improvement on the observed condition that explicit instructions were not needed for derived transformation or avoidance behaviours to occur (Dymond et al., 2008; Field, 2006). The derived extinction phase mirrors clinical procedures in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Follette & Linehan, 2004; Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda & Lillis, 2006) called cognitive diffusion. This is a where patients illiterate negative self-statements for a few minutes i.e. ‘I have no friends’ until generalized of the extinction is met, i.e. vocally created stimuli in relational to real-life environmental events, not within the therapy setting. The observed condition would have to be retested against the inferred condition to test for any real significant difference, as the limitations of this study hinders the potential findings reflected in all past literature. The emergence of transformation of functions and derived relational responding shows the effectiveness of Same and Opposite relational frames in a RCP, and illustrates a starting point for more procedures to aid in indirect anxiety and phobias to be built. To improve the effect of indirect learning over direct, a further study would be to test the observed group and inferred group against an instructed (Pavlovian fear condition) group. This will affirm the effectiveness of indirect learning of fearful stimuli. An issue of external validity must also be raised, as it does not necessarily stand that as participants showed promise in avoidance functions across stimuli in a lab setting with novel stimuli, that in a real life setting the results would be the same. To conclude, the results demonstrated participants transferred a fear response to a novel stimuli through observation 36
  • 37. and that derived relational training can effectively train participants to transfer learned fear avoidance response across novel stimuli in a lab environment. 37
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  • 42. Appendix 1 – Information Sheet (Observed) Information Sheet In this study, you will be attached to a bar electrode which will deliver electric shocks to your forearm, you will set the intensity of the shocks at the beginning of the experiment to be ‘uncomfortable but not painful’. A set of instructions will appear on the screen before each phase begins and time will be allowed for any questions to be asked to the researcher. There are 4 phases in total one of which requires you to watch a video. At the end of the study you will be given a debrief form explaining the nature of the study and the opportunity to find out more about this research and to ask any unanswered questions you may have. This study is conducted in accordance with the British Psychological Society and Departmental ethic guidelines, your participation in this study is completely voluntary and you may withdraw at any point, without penalty. You can also choose to have any data that you provided in this study to be disregarded at any time, during or after the study. Otherwise, your results will be kept anonymous and confidential to only the researchers or supervisors working on this study. All data will be password protected and not accessed for any other reasons than this study. You must not participate in this study if you have a pacemaker fitted; suffer with heart palpitations or currently talking psychotropic medication. If you agree to take part in this study we would appreciate it if you agree to not discuss your participation or any details of this study with others. Please now complete the consent forms and return them to the researcher. 42
  • 43. Appendix 1 – Information Sheet (Inferred) Information Sheet In this study, you will be attached to a bar electrode which will deliver electric shocks to your forearm, you will set the intensity of the shocks at the beginning of the experiment to be ‘uncomfortable but not painful’. A set of instructions will be presented on the screen before each phase begins and time will be allowed for any questions to be asked to the researcher. There are 8 phases in total, phase 6 onwards may entail up to 12 electric shocks. At the end of the study you will be given a debrief form explaining the nature of the study and the opportunity to find out more about this research and to ask any unanswered questions you may have. This study is conducted in accordance with the British Psychological Society and Departmental ethic guidelines, your participation in this study is completely voluntary and you may withdraw at any point, without penalty. You can also choose to have any data that you provided in this study to be disregarded at any time, during or after the study. Otherwise, your results will be kept anonymous and confidential to only the researchers or supervisors working on this study. All data will be password protected and not accessed for any other reasons than this study. You must not participate in this study if you have a pacemaker fitted; suffer with heart palpitations or currently talking psychotropic medication. If you agree to take part in this study, we would appreciate it if you agree to not discuss your participation or any details of this study with any others. Please now complete the consent forms and return them to the researcher. Appendix 1 – Consent Form (Observed & Inferred) 43
  • 44. Project title: The effectiveness of observed and inferred pathways of avoidance on learning. Name of Supervisor: Dr Simon Dymond, (s.o.dymond@swansea.ac.uk) Name of investigators: Katie Davies & Ellyn Moore Name of participant: Age: Sex: • I consent to take part in this study and am satisfied with the instructions I have been given so far. I have also been reassured that any further information I request regarding this study will be supplied to me at the end of this experiment. • I have been informed that the data I provide will remain confidential and be password protected. I am free to ask any questions at any time before, during and after the study and have been provided with a copy of this form and a participant information sheet. I also understand I will be provided with a debrief form at the end of the study. • I understand that during this study I will be required to place a bar electrode on my forearm which will be held in place by a small bandage. I will then be subject to a series of electric shocks, of which I am able to set the intensity at the beginning of the experiment. I understand the shock level will be “uncomfortable but not painful” and am free to stop the study at any time. • I am at least 18 years of age and have not been coerced in any way to participate in this study and can withdraw from the study at any point. • I understand I cannot participate in this study if I have any medical history of cardiac problems, or have been fitted with a pacemaker. Data protection: I agree to the university processing personal data that I have supplied. I agree to the processing of such data for any purposes connected with the research project as outlined to me. Participant signature: Date: Name of researcher: Signature: Date: 44
  • 45. Appendix 2 – Debrief Form (Observed) Thank you for taking part in this study. The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of observed learning and derived learning pathways of avoidance. Throughout this study we were testing whether you had learnt to avoid the correct stimulu just from observing someone completing a similar task, so at no point during the experiment, other than the calibration of the shock strength, were you in danger of receiving an electric shock based on the procedures of Olsson et al (2007). We would like to remind participants that if you feel uncomfortable with this study, then you are free to withdraw your data from this study at any time, although we would also like to remind you that all results are confidential and at no time will any data be identifiable to you or your name. If this study has resulted in any discomfort to yourself, we would like to inform you of the Student Counselling Service provided on campus at Horton House or alternatively, you can contact them on +44 (0) 1792 295592 or email wellbeing@swansea.ac.uk We would like if you would refrain from talking about this experiment to others whilst it is still running as any details you reveal could affect future results. If you would like to be informed of the results of this study once it is completed, feel free to contact the experimenters on; 554515@swansea.ac.uk or; 550819@swansea.ac.uk Supervisior; Dr Simon Dymond (s.o.dymond@swansea.ac.uk) Telephone: 01792 295602 If you would like more information about this area of research, please follow these references; Dymond, S., Roche, B., Forsyth, J. P., Whelan, R., & Rhoden, J. (2007). Transformation of avoidance response functions in accordance with the relational frames of same and opposite. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour, 88, 249-262. Olsson, A., Nearing, K. I., & Phelps, E. A. (2007). Learning fears by observing others: the neural systems of social fear transmission. SCAN, 2, 3-11. 45
  • 46. Appendix 2 – Debrief Form (Inferred) Thank you for taking part in this study. The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of observed learning and derived learning pathways of avoidance. Throughout this study we were testing whether you had learnt the correct same and opposite pairings for this experiment phases, so some phases had the threat of electric shocks whilst others did not and was just to test you. We would like to remind participants that if you feel uncomfortable with this study, then you are free to withdraw your data from this study at any time, although we would also like to remind you that all results are confidential and at no time will any data be identifiable to you or your name. If this study has resulted in any discomfort to yourself, we would like to inform you of the Student Counselling Service provided on campus at Horton House or alternatively, you can contact them on +44 (0) 1792 295592 or email wellbeing@swansea.ac.uk We would like if you would refrain from talking about this experiment to others whilst it is still running as any details you reveal could affect future results. If you would like to be informed of the results of this study once it is completed, feel free to contact the experimenters on; 554515@swansea.ac.uk or; 550819@swansea.ac.uk Supervisior; Dr Simon Dymond (s.o.dymond@swansea.ac.uk) Telephone: 01792 295602 If you would like more information about this area of research, please follow these references; Dymond, S., Roche, B., Forsyth, J. P., Whelan, R., & Rhoden, J. (2007). Transformation of avoidance response functions in accordance with the relational frames of same and opposite. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour, 88, 249-262. Dymond, S., & Whelan, R. (2010). Derived relational responding: A comparison of matching to sample and the relational completion procedure. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 94, 37-55. 46
  • 47. Appendix 3 – AAQ-II (Example) 47
  • 48. Appendix 4 – Computer instructions for Observed and Inferred Observed Phase 1: Habituation. “Thank you for agreeing to participate in this study. In this phase, on every trial you will be presented with one of two coloured circles. Each circle will appear for 3 seconds. Your job is to simply watch the screen. If you have any questions please ask the experimenter now.” Phase 2: Pavlovian Avoidance and Phase 3: Avoidance Acquisition “You will now watch a short film of a person doing an experiment similar to the one you yourself are going to be doing afterwards. The person in the film is going to receive shocks paired with one of two coloured circles presented to him. Pay close attention to which coloured circle is followed by shocks and which is not. The person in the film is then going to learn to press one of two marked keys on the keyboard to cancel the upcoming shock. Again, it is important you pay close attention to the film, because, in the experiment you are going to do afterwards, you are going to have to learn which one of the marked keys cancels the upcoming shock. When you are ready to view the film, press ‘Continue’.” Phase 4: Extinction “Now you are going to take part in an experiment similar to the one you have just watched. You will be presented with the same number of coloured circles as the person in the film, but in a different order. Importantly, you will receive shocks paired with the same colour as the person in the film. However, you will be able to cancel upcoming shocks by pressing one of the marked keys on the keyboard. When you are ready to proceed, press ‘Continue’.” Derived RCP General Procedure; “Thank you for agreeing to participate in this study. You will be presented with a series of images or nonsense words on the top half of the screen from left to right. Then you will be presented with 3 images or nonsense words on the bottom of the screen. Your task is to observe the images or words that appear from left to right and drag one of these images or words from the bottom to the blank, yellow square. Click and hold the mouse over the image or word to drag it to the blank square. To confirm your choice, then click ‘Finish Trial’. If you wish to make another choice, then click ‘Start Again’. Sometimes you will receive feedback on your choices, but at other times you will not. Your aim is to get as many tasks correct as possible. It is always possible to get a task correct, even if you are not given feedback.” Phase 5: Habituation “Thank you for agreeing to participate in this study. In this phase, on every trial you will be presented with one of two words. Each word will appear for 3 seconds. Your job is to simply watch the screen. If you have any questions please ask the experimenter now.” Phase 6: Pavlovian Avoidance 48
  • 49. “In this phase, on every trial you will be presented with one of two words. Each word will appear for 3 seconds followed by either a 250ms shock or no shock. The shock will be set at the level you have just selected. At the end of this phase, you will be asked to make some ratings as to how much you expect shock to follow each of the words. Please follow the onscreen instructions, and if you have any questions please ask the experimenter now.” Phase 7: Avoidance Acquisition “In this phase, you will again be presented, on every trial, with one of two words. When a word appears on the screen, the marked keys on the keyboard will be available to be pressed. Pressing the correct key when one of the words appears will cancel a pending shock. The same key will cancel the shock for the remainder of the study. You can learn which key is correct by paying close attention to the screen. At the end of this phase you will be asked to make some ratings as to how much you expect a shock to follow each of the words. Please follow the onscreen instructions, and if you have any questions, please contact the experimenter now” Phase 8: Extinction “This phase is important. Remember that all of the phases you have completed are interrelated and that the words seen here are the same seen earlier.” 49
  • 50. Appendix 5 – Excel spreadsheets 50
  • 51. Appendix 6 – SPSS outputs 51