2017: Kissel Goldman

University of Florida

Kissel Goldman is a graduate student studying behavior analysis at the University of Florida under the direction of Dr. Iser DeLeon. One of Kissel’s primary research interests is the assessment and treatment of movement disorders and repetitive behaviors. He is beginning work on a project to compare the effectiveness of two forms of competing responses on treating tic behaviors. Competing-response training is a critical component of habit-reversal therapy in which individuals are taught an alternative response to engage in whenever they become aware of the premonitory urge that precedes a tic. It is suggested commonly that these responses should be (a) incompatible with the tic, (b) compatible with ongoing activity, and (c) inconspicuous; however, scant research exists to suggests the necessity of incompatibility or whether the responses used currently are compatible and inconspicuous.


In the first part of his experiment, Kissel will ask college students to observe video recordings of individuals with tics either engaging in tics, using traditional competing responses, or using competing responses designed to be inconspicuous and compatible with tic behavior, and report whether they believe a person is engaging in a tic or attempting to suppress a tic. These reports will be used to compare the relative conspicuousness of the different forms of competing responses. In the second part of the experiment, two forms of competing responses for treating tics will be compared in a multi-element design. Individuals with tics will be asked to use either a traditional competing response or a competing response reported to be least conspicuous while they complete a signal-detection task. Changes in tic responding and performance on the signal-detection task will be compared between forms of competing responses.


The presence of tics can be stigmatizing socially and is associated with decreased quality of life. Therefore, it is essential that a treatment for tics be inconspicuous and not contribute to social stigmatization. It is expected that the results of the study will contribute to the development of more socially significant treatments for individuals with tic disorders as well as a better understanding of the function of competing responses in treating tics.


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