Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Contextual behavioural science (CBS) research has begun to investigate how to increase healthy social connection by exploring both (i.) the prosocial and coercive environments that influence adaptive social behaviour, and (ii.) better understanding the precise functional units of behaviour that facilitate it. The Flexible Connectedness Model (FCM) is an applied CBS approach that attributes the joint contributions of deictic relational responding, empathic concern, and experiential avoidance to successfully predicting maladaptive social behaviour. The first aim of the current thesis was to test the scope of the Flexible Connectedness Model (FCM) in predicting two functionally different types of prosocial behaviour (i.e., emotional prosocial tendency and altruistic prosocial tendency) and three functionally different types of coercive behaviour (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy). The second aim was to explore a more fine-grained analysis of the contribution of deictic relational responding to the model, by examining the differential contributions of four types of deictic ability. The four functionally different types of deictic relational responding included basic I You and You You deictic relational responding, and I You and You You deictic relational responding with emotion cues. It was predicted that the different types of prosocial and coercive behaviours would have unique FCM behavioural constellations, highlighting functional differences, with the potential to inform future interventions with further scope and precision.