McHugh et al., 2004

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APA Citation: 

McHugh, L., Barnes-Holmes, Y., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2004). Perspective-taking as relational responding: A developmental profile. The Psychological Record, 54, 115-144.

Publication Topic: 
RFT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
age groups, operant behavior, research , cognitive ability

The authors, researchers at the National University of Ireland, propound that the relational frames of I-YOU, HERE-THERE, and NOW-THEN are central to the development of complex perspective-taking. The present paper reports 3 studies that investigate the development of perspective-taking in terms of these 3 relational frames. Overall, the findings from the 3 studies lend support to the Relational Frame approach to the development of perspective-taking as generalized operant behavior.

This article describes traditional tasks that relate to what developmental literature calls “Theory of Mind. ” Its goals were to develop and test a protocol across groups in several different developmental stages (young children through adulthood) that indicated that perspective taking could be described in terms of relational responding (arbitrarily applicable, mutually entailed, combinatorily entailed, and showing transformation of stimulus function) and that added but did not contradict the traditional and developmental literature. Study 1 tested the protocol, Study 2 tested whether young children’s poor response was an artifact of word length, and Study 3 tested whether the experimenter’s cues affected responding. Results from three studies indicated indeed that perspective taking can be viewed as an operant, and that deictic frames across three levels of complexity were functionally distinct classes of behavior. A developmental profile emerged, showing that derived relational responding develops with age as well as relational complexity. Further, I-YOU relations emerge before HERE-THERE and NOW-THEN relations, and NOW-THEN relations produced the most errors in all participants regardless of age
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