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Workstream Lead: Dr Kevin Hochard

Kevin has recently taken a lead on this developing workstream within the Centre, given his extensive knowledge and experience in experimental research methods. We are especially interested in using experimental science to test and develop components and exercises that might be used in applied psychology interventions. Much of our current work in this area is focussed on improving and evaluating values-clarification exercises.


Current Projects

Integrating approach and avoidance to achieve valued living. People with higher levels of negative emotion often have difficulty problem solving and projecting themselves into the future. As such they may be biased towards negative evaluations of events, and less able to specify and elaborate their values prior to setting achievable goals, as is required in conventional values-clarification exercises. In this study we will develop and test the utility of a new values clarification exercise where participants (i) identify negative traits they want to avoid (e.g., being unkind) prior to (ii) using that negative descriptor to prompt identification of an opposing trait (a value to strive towards), and (iii) setting achievable goals in line with those identified values. Project Lead: Kevin Hochard

Testing the equivalence of values clarification exercises in the laboratory setting. Values clarification exercises are used in ACT, Logotherapy, and other therapeutic/intervention approaches to help clients develop a stronger sense of coherence and purpose in life. A variety of exercises allows practitioners to select those deemed most client-appropriate. We are testing, comparatively, under controlled laboratory conditions, the equivalence of such exercises and differences in the resulting values identified. Project Lead: Kevin Hochard

Appetitive augmental functions and common physical properties in metaphor effect. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) advocates that the tacit understanding of metaphorical language pertains to our ability to derive arbitrary relations when relevant contextual cues are specified. Previous experimental work has shown that the presence of additional cues within perseverance metaphors which specify common physical properties (e.g. “very cold”) encourages verbal generalisation to the cold pressor task, thus increasing pain tolerance (Sierra et al.,  2016). Testing an RFT conceptualization of metaphor aptness is important to ensure accurate understanding. We recently conducted an experimental replication of work in this area. Project Lead: Rosie Pendrous


Recent Grants

Hulbert-Williams L, Ashcroft S, Hochard K & Hulbert-Williams NJ. A novel test of combinatorial entailment in Relational Frame Theory. University of Chester: £3,311 (2017-18).

Hochard, K. D., Hulbert-Williams, L., & Townsend, E. Brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) intervention to moderate the effects of low belongingness (Cyberball study). University of Chester: £3838 (2015-17).

Hulbert-Williams L, Hulbert-Williams NJ, Flynn S, Hochard K & Hooper N. Testing the generalisation of brief mindfulness instructions in the context of physical pain. University of Chester: £3,333 (2015-16).         

Hulbert-Williams NJ, Heaton-Brown L, McHugh R, Cousins M & Hulbert-Williams L. Improving audio-delivered mindfulness interventions: what type of voice do people prefer and find most effective? University of Chester: £4,399 (2013-15).