15.56 Rule Following and Behavioral Rigidity

The Dark Side of Language

But rules can also make us less sensitive to or unaware of changes in the environment not contacted or described by the rules we are following1. In other words, humans will often continue to follow a rule even if the rule is inaccurate, ineffective, or harmful. Rules can induce behavioral rigidity. Unfortunately, there are many rules that we construct ourselves or learn from others that are inaccurate or ineffective. Many of these rules, such as racial stereotypes or ineffective coping strategies, can also be harmful to ourselves or others. From the perspective of RFT, learning to identify and follow rules that accurately describe the consequences of behavior and lead to desired outcomes is key to psychological health and flexibility. In education, learning to do this is a key component of what we call critical thinking.

The dominance of verbal relations

Bidirectional transformation of stimulus functions

Rampant rule following

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