A controlled comparison of the Word Repeating Technique with a word association task

K. P. De Young, J. M. Lavender, L. A. Washington, A. Looby, D. A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The Word Repeating Technique (WRT) is a cognitive defusion technique used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). In this exercise, a word or short phrase is quickly repeated aloud until the context required for the word to have literal meaning changes. This study compared the WRT to a procedure that requires words to retain their meaning [the Implicit Associations Task (IAT)]. If the WRT operates by inducing a loss of meaning in words, one would not expect similar effects from a task requiring literal processing of words. Participants (N = 160) completed either the WRT or IAT with or without a theoretically consistent rationale for performing the task, while an additional 40 participants were in a control condition. Both the WRT and IAT decreased discomfort and believability ratings from pre- to post-test for words that were targeted in the tasks, with the WRT resulting in a larger pre- to post-test decrease for discomfort ratings. Only the WRT decreased the discomfort of words not targeted in the task from pre- to post-test, while neither task decreased the believability of words that were not targeted in the tasks. Providing a rationale did not have an effect for either task. Although the strengths of the effects for the WRT were larger than those for the IAT, both tasks demonstrated effects in the same direction and neither demonstrated effects that were larger in magnitude than what was accounted for by regression to the mean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-432
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • ACT
  • Cognitive defusion
  • Word Repeating Technique


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