2009: Nigel Vahey

Dept. of Psychology, Maynooth Co. Kildare

Nigel’s Ph.D. research has provided evidence that implicit reinforcement expectancies support experientially avoidant processes that are psychologically important in maintaining tobacco dependence. Implicit reinforcement expectancies are belief tendencies about the effectiveness of smoking as a means of regulating unpleasant feelings. Nigel’s research assessed two core progeny of relational frame theory: relational responding and experiential avoidance. The smoking implicit relational assessment procedures Nigel developed with Prof. Dermot Barnes-Holmes at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth appear to provide superior behavioral prediction relative to comparable self-reports or alternative implicit measures. Nigel’s research has the potential to substantially improve our understanding of the role of implicit avoidant processes in maintaining smoking and in precipitating smoking relapse. Nigel would like to express his gratitude to the generous donors to the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis whose contributions made his dissertation grant possible.


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