Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #279
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission A Behavior Analysis of Social Injustice and Gender Discrimination: Relational Frames, Psychological Flexibility, and Discounting
Sunday, May 30, 2021
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Area: CSS/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Taylor Marie Lauer (Missouri State University)
Discussant: Dana Paliliunas (Missouri State University)
CE Instructor: Dana Paliliunas, Ph.D.

The year 2020 marked social upheaval not seen since the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movements of the 1950s through the 1970s. Two major events included the #MeToo movement and the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Behavior analysis did not exist as a singular field early in this struggle but may provide a research strategy that can participate within a broader scientific movement to understand social injustice and discrimination. The first talk will explore how relational frames and psychological flexibility are related to attitudes about social justice issues that exist today. The next three talks will explore challenges specific to women as a function of gender discrimination and social norms. First, we will explore how motherhood can lead to increased probability discounting with implications for employment and promotion of women in the workplace. Second, we will evaluate gender stereotyping may emerge and self-organize within relational density theory and the role of gender non-conforming exemplars in the development of a psychologically flexible view of gender. Finally, we will explore how modest and revealing clothing may impact the believability of sexual harassment claims by women in private and public contexts. These studies will be situated within a broader strategy to addressing social injustice and gender discrimination within Westernized cultures.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Civil rights, Gender discrimination, Relational frames, Social justice
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: (1) Identify the relationships between psychological flexibility and attitudes about social justice; (2) Describe the relationship between discounting and motherhood; (3) Discuss the role of relational frames within a nested model of sexism
Diversity submission 

Looking Beyond Political Perspectives: Examining Flexibility Related to Social Justice Issues from a Behavior Analytic and Relational Approach

JESSICA M HINMAN (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Zhihui Yi (Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago), Mark R. Dixon (University of Illinois at Chicago)

The current presentation will present data examining the relationship between derived relational responding, psychological flexibility, and perceived importance of various social justice issues. Participants from across the United States with differing self-identified political beliefs were asked to complete an online version of the PEAK Compressive Assessment Transformation-Expressive (PCA-T-E) module and a series of psychological flexibility questionnaires. Next, participants completed an online, paired choice preference assessment which presented them with twelve different social justice issues including racism, climate change, national security, and health care, and they were instructed to indicate which one they found more important. Based on their preference assessment results and self-reported political identity, participants were categorized as rigid or flexible based on how their ranked social justice issues aligned with their political views. Results suggest that individuals with flexible political views outperform individuals with rigid political views on the PCA-T-E assessment but show little differentiation in psychological flexibility, suggesting a relationship between language and political rigidity. Implications for further assessment and intervention aimed to expand flexibility are discussed.

Diversity submission Experimental Evaluation of Risk Aversion in Mothers in a Hypothetical Parenting and Discounting Task
JESSICA M VENEGONI (Missouri State University ), Elana Keissa Sickman (Missouri State University), Brittany A Sellers (Missouri State University ), Lindsey Audrey Marie Dennis (Missouri State University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University)
Abstract: Prior research over multiple generations has shown lower levels of risk-taking in females compared to males, and lower risk taking in mothers compared to non-mothers (Abbott-Chapman et al., 2007). Risk can be defined behaviorally within a choice-making framework where choices confer a probabilistic gain that co-occurs with a probabilistic loss. Low levels of risk-taking can be advantageous in some contexts but harmful in others. For example, Ekelund et al. (2005) showed that individuals who demonstrated high risk aversion were less likely to become independent entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship may be considered risky because, although the financial potential is high, so too are social, financial, and temporal loses. In the present study, we evaluated the relationship between a shared experience of mothers – parenting – on probability discounting as a behavioral model of risk and risk aversion. Participants completed three probability discounting tasks. The first was the standard discounting task. In the second task, the participants imagined that they had a young child and were required to actively interact with this scenario before completing the discounting task. In the third task, the participants imagined the child had a chronic illness that necessitated lengthy hospitalization. Results showed that the least risky (i.e., lowest discounting rates) were observed in the condition with the sick child, and the most risky (i.e., highest discounting rates) were observed in the baseline condition. These results suggest that contextual factors associated with parenting may mediate risk-taking in mothers with implications for employment, advancement, and entrepreneurship.
Diversity submission 

Relational Density Theory: Evaluating Relational Frames Within Gender Stereotyping

ELANA KEISSA SICKMAN (Missouri State University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Ashley Payne (Missouri State University ), Erin Travis (Missouri State University)

Discrimination against women in Western cultures is evident within educational and professional experiences of women, as well as pay and promotion disadvantages experienced by women. Relational frames may contribute to implicit biases that operate within nested contingency systems. The present study attempts to explore the apparent self-organization of gendered relational frames from within a Relational Density Theory framework. We first modelled gendered frames within a two-dimensional geometric space. In a second phase, gender consistent and gender inconsistent information was provided for four hypothetical non-gendered people. We then modelled the gendered frames again along with the inclusion of the hypothetical people to see if gender consistent frames exerted gravity on unstated relations about the hypothetical people. Finally, participants were divided into two groups and were given gender information that either cohered or failed to cohere with the stereotypic gendered frames. Results show differences in the formation and erosion of stereotypic frames as shown within the geometric space. Results have implications for understanding the innermost layer of the nested model.

Diversity submission 

Implicit Bias Within a Nested Model of Sexism

CHYNNA BRIANNE FRIZELL (Misssouri State University ), Sara Johnson (Missouri State University), Crystal Tracy (Missouri State University), Dana Paliliunas (Missouri State University)

Sexism and biases related to women are important areas of empirical attention in the United States due to social issues involving prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination on the basis of sex. The study of implicit biases related to sex or gender has garnered interest, with contributions from behaviorally oriented researchers present within the past several years. We suggest that implicit bias is one relevant component of a model of sexism consistent with another proposed model of racial bias as described by Belisle, Payne, & Paliliunas (under review). First, peer-reviewed research related to implicit bias and sex will be reviewed in terms of this proposed model, additionally utilizing the theory-to-impact model described by Dixon, Belisle, Rehfeldt, & Root (2018) to evaluate the literature in the areas of theory, basic/translational, and applied research. Second, two empirical investigations measuring potential biases related to sex or gender using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) and evaluation of relational responding will be reviewed and discussed in terms of implications for future research, highlighting the need for applied, intervention-focused research in this area.




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