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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #200
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Sexuality, Sexual Behavior, and Psychological Flexibility
Sunday, May 29, 2022
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 156A
Area: CSS/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jessica M Venegoni (Missouri State University )
Discussant: Ayla Schmick (Missouri Southern State University)
CE Instructor: Jessica M Hinman, M.S.
Abstract: Behavior analysis is well equipped to understand and address topics related to sexual behaviors and sexuality. However, most of the work carried out within behavior analysts pertaining to sex has emphasized identifying the function of sexual behavior and implementing interventions to replace or reduce sexual behavior in individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Beyond traditional behavior management strategies, little behavioral research has focused on the psychological complexities of sex. From a contextual behavioral perspective, topics such as sexual and gender identity, infidelity, sexual stigma, and impulsivity can be examined through the lens of psychological flexibility. The current studies will present a series of research addressing the relationship between sexuality, sexual behavior, and psychological flexibility and the effectiveness of utilizing mindfulness-based interventions to promote behavior change in individuals with and without neurodevelopmental disabilities. First, we will discuss the relationship between relationship satisfaction and infidelity probability and examine the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing infidelity probability. Next, we will present research which utilized Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to promote sexual empowerment among individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and reduce sexual stigma in parents and caregivers. Results provide future researchers and clinicians with the theoretical and conceptual framework for understanding sexuality and sexual behavior from a contemporary behavioral perspective.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Acceptance, Mindfulness, Psychological flexibility, Sex
Target Audience: Behavior analysts, students, and faculty
Learning Objectives: (1) describe the role of context in decisions about sex; (2) discuss research on neurodiversity and attitudes about sex and sexuality; (3) describe the role of ACT in promoting sexual empowerment
Diversity submission 

Evaluating the Relationship Between Sexual Arousal and Mindfulness on?Probability Discounting Evident in Choices About Infidelity

(Applied Research)
MAGGIE ADLER (Missouri State University), Brittany A Sellers (Missouri State University), Elana Keissa Sickman (Missouri State University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University)

Being part of a committed and satisfying relationship is frequently cited as one of the most deeply held values of both men and women in?the United States and other westernized countries. Moreover, relationship infidelity is cited as a?frequent cause of?dissatisfaction and the termination of committed relationships. A contextual behavioral model suggests that choices around?infidelity?are contextually bound, where antecedent strategies like avoiding arousing events with strangers and behavior relational strategies such as practicing mindfulness could?abate arousal functions and reduce the probability of infidelity. In the present study, we?evaluated these contextual factors in a randomized control trial design.?Participants completed a probability discounting task under the hypothetical situation of being in a relationship?at either 75% or 25%?relationship?satisfaction?and?reported?how likely they were to?engage in infidelity?as?an inverse function of?likelihood of getting caught. Half of the participants then completed the same task a second time after watching a 5-minute?arousing scene from a movie identified for each participant in a preference assessment. The other participants completed the second task after completing 5-minutes of mindfulness. Results showed that the overall?probability?of infidelity was higher with lower relationship satisfaction?and the arousing scene produced even greater discounting rates. Mindfulness may have served as a protective behavior the reduced probability discounting.?Results have implications for a contextual view of?infidelity.?

Diversity submission 

Sexuality and Disability: Utilizing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Empower Neurodiverse Young Adults and Address Sexual Stigma Among Caregivers

(Applied Research)
JESSICA M. HINMAN (University of Illinois at Chicago ), Mark R. Dixon (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities often face stigma related to sexuality, sexual expression, and reproductive health. Common misconceptions include beliefs that people with disabilities cannot maintain healthy sexual or romantic relationships, are unfit to bear children, do not have sexual desires, and do not need to learn about sex because they will not understand the content. As a result, many neurodiverse individuals do not receive sexuality education which may cause more significant psychological distress and inflexibility. To promote psychological flexibility related to sexuality among neurodiverse individuals and address sexual stigma among caregivers, the current study compared Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to psychoeducational approaches using a randomized control trial design. In study one, individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities attended a three-day ACT and sexuality group workshop focused on sexual and gender identity, consent and boundaries, and reproductive health. After attending the workshop, participants reported increases in sexual empowerment and interpersonal psychological flexibility compared to those who received the educational curriculum. In study two, parents and caregivers of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities attended a two-hour ACT group workshop to reduce negative attitudes related to individuals with developmental disabilities and sexuality. The findings of both studies suggest ACT is an effective intervention for increasing psychological flexibility related to sexuality in neurodiverse individuals and their caregivers. The implications of utilizing psychological flexibility approaches in conjunction with sexuality education for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities will be discussed.




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