Project Title

A Trial of a Digital Daily Valuing Exercise on Participant Chosen Values and Valued Behaviors.

Project Abstract

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a third wave behavioral therapy centered on psychological flexibility, the ability to respond adaptively to shifting contexts in service of personally held values. Within ACT, values are defined as “freely chosen, verbally constructed consequences of ongoing, dynamic, evolving patterns of activity” (Wilson & Dufrene, 2009, p. 66). Constructing values can help individuals select and implement expanding patterns of meaningful behaviors. Research shows that ACT and values-focused interventions are beneficial for mental and behavioral health, and show increases in overall well being above and beyond symptom reduction. Yet, identification with hypothetical values do not steadily predict large increases in researcher-generated target behaviors.

One reason for this disconnect may be that researcher-decided target behaviors (e.g. exercising for twenty minutes a day) may not hold the same evocative effect and connection to that value for each or every participant. One feature of valuing as conceptualized in ACT is that the reinforcer for valued behaviors is intrinsic. Researcher decided target behaviors may induce participants to perform behaviors by setting forth contingencies based on following rules. In this study, we aim to conduct research that narrows this gap by having participants explore valuing in a more ecologically sound context. Namely, we will allow the participant to construct their value and an associated valued action to ensure the value is sufficiently appetitive to them and the action is functionally related to their valuing before measuring behavior change. Additionally, this study will implement a smartphone intervention.

Participants will undertake this process by first listening to a two-minute audio recording which guides them in understanding valuing and domains of life they may value. Participants will then set their own valued behaviors through the SMART goal process, ensuring the measured target behavior is relevant, specific, attainable, and time-bound. Surveys are included to assess participants’ psychological flexibility, psychological symptoms, and satisfaction with current valuing domains, which will be repeated after text-based mini-interventions. Participants will then complete 15 days of EMA text-based surveys reporting if they engaged in their chosen behavior the day before, with or without a 2-minute values-based booster audio intervention. Frequency of valued behaviors will be compared between days with and without the mini-intervention.

Results could inform both adjuncts to clinical treatment or for apps and social services to enhance the wellbeing of non-clinical populations. Psychotherapists typically see clients only two to four times a week. A therapist dentify valuing as beneficial to clients, help them construct values in intermittent sessions, and guide them in identifying valuing behaviors that could improve their lives. However, they will not be able to prompt and observe the client in vivo. Developing mini-interventions with behavioral goals may be a way to prompt clients and build behavioral momentum between sessions, furthering clinical progress. A technologically-based delivery would be cost-efficient and accessible to wider populations. Results could alternately apply to development of apps or related technologies to enhance valued living in the general population, which are growing increasingly popular.

Funding Type

Research Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Area/Major/Minor

General Experimental Psychology

Degree

Masters of Science

Graduation Expected

05/22

Classification

Graduate

Name

Michael J. Bordieri, PhD

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Beginning date of project

2-2021

End date of project

2-2022

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