Deictic Relational Responding, Empathy, and Experiential Avoidance as Predictors of Social Anhedonia: Further Contributions from Relational Frame Theory

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

The Psychological Record



Publication Date

Summer 6-6-2012


Social anhedonia has been linked to the development and exacerbation of psychosis. The present study explored the hypothesis that scores in social anhedonia are related to deictic relational responding, empathic concern, and experiential avoidance, as suggested by relational frame theory and acceptance and commitment therapy. College students (N = 110) from a Spanish university completed self-report measures of social anhedonia, empathy, and experiential avoidance. Deictic relational responding was measured by performance on a behavioral task. Sequential multiple regression indicated that deictic relational responding, empathy, and experiential avoidance have a large relationship size with social anhedonia, accounting for 26% of the total variance, and minimal overlap among each other. These data support the utility of these processes as predictors of social anhedonia, suggesting new psychological targets for its prevention and treatment. The implication of these processes for the development of psychosis should be explored. Anhedonia refers to individuals' lack of interest in pleasant activities or withdrawal from them. This concept, proposed originally by Ribot (1897) and further developed by Kraepelin (1919) and Bleuler (1950), has long been argued to be a central and etiologically important feature of schizophrenia. Nomothetic measures (e.g., Chapman, Chapman, & Raulin, 1976) have led to longitudinal studies that provide support for this view, including the finding that individuals with high scores on the Magical Ideation and Social Anhedonia Scales had higher rates of clinical psychosis (21%) at a 10-year follow-up (Chapman, Chapman, Kwapil, Eckblad, & Zinser, 1994).