About the Book
Over the past 10 years we have been researching “How do words and speech influence covert and overt behaviour?” This question distilled more precisely to a focus on how personal utterances regarding the ‘self’ acting in the world function to predict wellbeing. From the philosophical orientation of functional contextualism, we undertook an empirical analysis of language using Relational Frame Theory (RFT) in order to understand the functional relation between the terms being used by the speaker as they recalled the antecedent and consequent events related to emotionally charged events in their lives. This, in part, involved identifying the values that were controlling the speaker’s observation and discrimination of what was important to them. This led to the development of a method, the Functional Self-Discrimination Measure & Interview (FSDM-I), for classifying functional ways that the interviewees took perspective on experience and talked about themselves. Applying this method showed that: speaking of ‘values’ and their means of implementation significantly predicted long-term wellbeing; if a speaker uttered both value oriented self-rules and perspective taking statements, the combined effect was a stronger relationship with wellbeing; the way a person viewed themselves was significantly and positively related to their view of others; and, specific ratios of different categories of utterances equated to high levels of psychological flexibility.
The FSDM-I method represents a new approach to analysing natural language, which allows for the prediction and potential influence of the future behaviour and wellbeing of the speaker. This work, we believe, is a functional assessment of verbal behaviour, which is new in the field of Contextual Behavioural Science (CBS), and has important implications for those working and researching in the fields of psychological wellbeing and behaviour change. This enquiry coincidently led us to a consideration of the social implications of this work and the development of prosocial and moral behaviour more broadly.
Here is the book 'The Functional Self-Discrimination Measure and Interview: A Measure of Verbal Behaviour that Predicts Wellbeing'. We look forward to learning of further developments with its application in the service of enhancing valued living.
Dr Robert Styles
Dr Paul Atkins
About the Author
I initially trained in music then, in a later chapter of my life, went on to become an academic doing applied research in the field of Contextual Behavioural Science through the Australian National University. Over the last couple of decades, this stream of activity has had me working with communities, organisations, and governments across the Australian, Pacific, African, Asian, European, and American regions. Presently, I am working with Prosocial World, an organisation that has developed a change method based on behavioural and evolutionary science that enhances cooperation and collaboration for groups of all types and sizes that is potentially effective on a global scale. When engaged, for me, this means co-designing behavioural and evolutionary approaches to realising environmental and socio-cultural resilience and wellbeing for those I am working with.
The approach I take to this work is captured in my two books, The Functional Self-Discrimination Measure and Interview and The Conversation. The Functional Self-Discrimination Measure & Interview provides a method for analysing language that has shown the way people describe their own and others’ behaviour predicts their long-term wellbeing. Applying this understanding has led to the design of healthy social behaviour by successfully identifying and aligning the intrinsically held values of community members. The Conversation translates this research agenda into an easy to read and evocative conversation that strives, with integrity, to answer the question, “What is important now and in the long run (for you and the significant others in your life)?” In this way, applying an empirically validated understanding of the function of language and cognition and how it regulates behaviour to reinforce prosocial and moral conduct in different contexts. The significance of these two books extends from the one-on-one session work of therapists and professional coaches with their clients to the work of leaders and change agents aiming to coordinate broader systemic change. The History of Music, reflects my enduring love of the art.