International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 1 Num. 2 - December 2001


Into the Lion's Den: Incorporating Personality and Evolutionary Psychology to Expand Clinical Behavior Analysis [En la Guarida del Le?n: Incorporando la Personalidad y la Psicolog?a Evolutiva para Expandir el An?lisis del Comportamiento Cl?nico]

Volume 1 Num. 2 - December 2001 - Pages 175-189


Jennifer A. Harrington, Brandi C. Fink and Michael J. Dougher


This paper incorporates aspects of the personality and evolutionary psychology literatures into a behavior analytic framework to expand clinical behavior analysis. We argue that personality can be understood in reference to contingencies of reinforcement that are differentially potentiated across individuals by the joint influences of phylogenetic and ontogenetic variables. Moreover, we propose that the behavioral effects of phylogenetic variables, which have been relatively neglected in the behavior analytic literature, can be conceptualized as functioning like establishing operations. This conceptualization provides a partial behavioral account of the variability across individuals with respect to reinforcer potency and why some are behaviors appear to be refractory to change or therapeutic intervention. The practical ramifications of our approach to personality are exemplified in a clinical case example and discussion of acceptance-based couple?s therapy.

Key words:

Personality, Clinical behavior analysis

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