Linking individual behavior change to social transformation

Steve Hayes is working on his new book A liberated mind for 11 years, but he has been working on his content for almost 40 years. Now, only a month after its release, its final chapter has become a book in its own right, Prosocialwritten with Paul Atkins of Australian Catholic University and David Sloan Wilson, a well-known evolutionary biologist from Binghamton University in New York.

A Nevada Foundation Professor in the Department of Psychology’s Behavior Analysis Program, Hayes is the originator and pioneer researcher of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is one of the new forms most studied psychological interventions in the world in recent decades. . A liberated mind (from Penguin/Avery) tells his personal story of battling panic disorder nearly 40 years ago, and the scientific story of how ACT and its underlying “psychological flexibility model” were subsequently developed and tested by a global community of scholars and therapists. The book shows readers how to develop their own psychological flexibility skills and apply them to issues based on their behavior, mental health (anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, PTSD); physical health (chronic pain, coping with diabetes, coping with cancer); performance (sports, business, diet, exercise); and social processes (relationship issues, prejudice, stigma, domestic violence; social transformation).

The central idea is simple but subtle: we struggle because our problem-solving mind tells us to run away from what scares, hurts or worries us. Not only does this often magnify the impact of difficult thoughts and feelings, it also cuts us off from a key source of human vitality and purpose because we hurt where we care. So, if we are running from a sense of vulnerability, we must also run from what matters most to us. Using psychological flexibility skills, ACT teaches how to tap into a different mode of mind that is more emotionally and cognitively open, then use greater awareness and mindfulness to draw attention to what brings meaning. and purpose in life, instead creating habits around growth. avoidance.

Prosocial scales these ideas in the development of small group cooperation and success, linking psychological flexibility to the late Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize-winning “Basic Design Principles” (CDP). Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economics by showing that groups have succeeded for millennia in protecting their common resources (fisheries, forests, rivers, etc.) without government control or private property, but only if they organize way to promote cooperation. . She and Wilson later showed that her eight CDPs that predict success stem from extensive evolutionary synthesis. Wilson and Hayes met with Ostrom shortly before his death to discuss the implications of linking psychological flexibility principles, which were also developed from an evolutionary perspective, and CDPs. Prosocial is the name of an applied method that later emerged based on these two sets of ideas. The last chapter of A liberated mind tells the story of how ACT and CDPs were applied in Sierra Leone to help slow the recent Ebola outbreak and the full story of this method and how to use it is now presented in detail in the new book Prosocial.

The video presented in this article on Prosocial was recently posted on a website for behavior analysts (professionals who use learning principles to modify behavior). The site also posted a similar video featuring Hayes’ book A liberated mind. The Behavior Analysis program is one of three graduate programs in the Department of Psychology, which joined the College of Science this summer. The video shows Hayes explaining why BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) should learn the Prosocial Method, but it also provides a quick tutorial in Ostrom’s CDPs.