Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology: School Psychology

First Advisor

Corinne Zimmerman

Second Advisor

Thomas Critchfield


Previous research has suggested that technical language is regularly used in the area of clinical practice called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). However, the use of this technical language or jargon may elicit unpleasant emotional responses that could be expected to “turn off” clients or parents of child clients. To understand how emotional overtones of words may interfere with therapist-client communication, the current study utilized an online data collection tool to obtain word emotion ratings of jargon words and terms. The first study is a replication and extension of past research that used existing word emotion ratings for ABA jargon words from a larger corpus of English words. I collected novel emotional ratings of ABA terms and General Psychological terms used in clinical settings. The second study examined emotional responses to ABA terms and General Psychological terms in both English and Spanish by bilingual individuals. Participants completed a word rating task and an acculturation scale that assessed their level of bilingualism. The results of Study 1 are consistent with previous research in finding that ABA jargon terms were generally perceived as unpleasant. General Psychological terms were found to be just as unpleasant as ABA terms. Although previous research has shown that bilingual individuals may express emotions differently depending on which language they are using at the time, in Study 2 I found that bilingual individuals rated ABA terms and General Psychological terms as largely equivalent with respect to emotional response in both English and Spanish. Language dominance and language preference were not correlated with emotional responses to specific terms in either language. Together the results of these studies inform decisions about how to communicate technical information about therapy to individuals seeking support from therapists.


Imported from ProQuest Bueno_ilstu_0092E_11266.pdf


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