International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 8 Num. 2 - June 2008


Rule-Governed Behavior and Psychological Problems

Volume 8 Num. 2 - June 2008 - Pages 141-156


Niklas T?rneke , Carmen Luciano , Sonsoles Valdivia Salas


The term rule-governed behavior (RGB) was first coined by Skinner (1966) to refer to
behavior essential to complex human abilities. The traditional behavioral account of rulegoverned
behavior presented some difficulties in describing how these abilities are formed
and altered. With the advent of recent findings within the theoretical approach referred to
as Relational Frame Theory (RFT), the former difficulties are at present being overcome.
RFT is providing a comprehensive understanding of behavioral problems as found in diverse
psychopathologies. The present paper addresses first the basic assumptions of RFT in
relation to rule-following. Then, the three types of RGB, pliance, tracking and augmenting
are presented. Finally, we describe the problems that can emerge from the different types
of RGB, with a special emphasis on the role of ineffective augmenting as the basis of those
psychological problems characterized by the occurrence of deliberate efforts to avoid certain
thoughts, feelings and the like as the primary coping strategy to live which, in turn,
produces paradoxical effects.

Key words:

rule-governed behavior, self-knowledge, pliance, tracking, augmenting, transformation of functions, Relational Frame Theory, verbal regulation, psychological disorders

Full Article

More articles in this volume

Logo AAC

Master Terapias Contextuales