• Appetitive augmental functions and common physical properties in a pain-tolerance metaphor: An extended replication

      Pendrous, Rosina; Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Hochard, Kevin; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.
      Relational frame theory claims that the tacit understanding of metaphorical language rests upon our ability to derive relations based on relevant contextual cues; with metaphor aptness being a function of learning history and the number and nature of contextual cues presented. Recent experimental research has explored whether metaphor aptness plays a role in changing behaviour. Sierra, Ruiz, Flórez, Riaño Hernández, and Luciano (2016) demonstrated that the presence of common physical properties (herein common properties; “cold”) within a perseverance metaphor increased pain tolerance to the cold pressor task. When the metaphor also specified appetitive augmental functions (herein augmentals; “something important to you”), pain tolerance also increased. We tested the replicability of these findings under more stringent conditions, using a stratified (by sex) double-blind randomised-controlled experimental design. Eighty-nine participants completed baseline measures of psychological flexibility, cognitive fusion, generalised pliance, and analogical reasoning ability. Participants were then allocated to a pre-recorded audio-delivered metaphor exercise containing either: (i) common properties; (ii) augmentals; (iii) both; or (iv) neither (control condition). Participants completed the cold pressor task before and after intervention. We found no change in pain tolerance following intervention in any condition. Given potential implications for apt metaphor use for changing behaviour, further work is required to establish why the original study's findings were not replicated, to identify boundary conditions for the putative effect, and test metaphor use in ecologically valid settings.
    • In search of scope: A response to Ruiz et al. (2020)

      Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J; Pendrous, Rosina; Hochard, Kevin D; University of Chester
      Deliberate and explicit replication attempts are becoming more common across the behavioral sciences. Whilst replicability has been recognized as a core feature of science for decades (if not centuries), the directness of today’s replication work requires us to consider carefully how we communicate our research and how we conceptualize our theories in light of differing findings. This paper uses a concrete example to make a number of suggestions for how we, as a scientific community, ought to engage with replication attempts. Within Relational Frame Theory (RFT) there is a growing body of applied research on the effective use of metaphors to increase tolerance of aversive states. We conducted a replication of an earlier experimental analogue study (2020, this journal) and failed to find the specified effect. Ruiz et al. (2020, also this journal) have recently published a critical response in which they list a number of differences between our two studies which might account for the negative findings. We will use this series of three papers as our exemplum. We also take the opportunity to acknowledge some points of critique provided by Ruiz et al., and to set the record straight with respect to the differences between the original study and our replication attempt. We hope this discussion might help the CBS community to develop a coherent approach to the very current issue of replication.