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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #375
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Behavioral Economics of Sexual HIV Risk Behavior in Humans: Sexual Discounting

Monday, May 25, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
006AB (CC)
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.
Chair: Christine E. Hughes (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
MATTHEW W. JOHNSON (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His behavioral economics research has applied delay discounting and demand analyses to addiction. Highly cited early contributions include validation of human delay discounting methods and approaches for evaluating discounting data. His research has indicated delay discounting of condom use to be a critical variable influencing sexual HIV risk. Dr. Johnson also has conducted human studies determining the acute effects of numerous drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine, caffeine, GHB, alcohol, triazolam, ramelteon, psilocybin, dextromethorphan, and salvinorin A. His recent research has combined his areas of expertise by determining the effects of acute drug administration on the discounting of sexual outcomes. Dr. Johnson has published more than 50 manuscripts and chapters. He has been awarded more than $5 million as principal investigator from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Johnson received the 2011 Young Psychopharmacologist Award from the Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Division of the American Psychological Association, and the 2014 Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences Early Career Impact Award. Dr. Johnson has been interviewed about the behavioral effects of drugs by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Show, NPR’s Morning Edition, NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Many studies have shown that greater delay discounting of money is associated with drug-use disorders. The Sexual Discounting Task was developed to determine the effect of delay on decisions to use condoms in casual sex contexts. Findings show that sexual discounting is typically hyperbolic, consistent with discounting results across species and outcomes. Data show sexual discounting to be: sensitivity to sexual partner desirability and likelihood of having a sexually transmitted infection (STI); related to self-reported recent sexual risk (contrasting with money discounting); greater in drug-dependent vs. nondependent individuals; and reliable at a one-week interval. Recently examined were the acute effects of drugs associated with sexual risk on the Sexual Discounting Task, including a novel probability discounting variation assessing the effects of uncertainty of STI contraction on condom use. Results suggest that cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol increase both delay and probability discounting of condom use. For methamphetamine, this increase was observed only for those individuals for whom methamphetamine increased sexual arousal ratings. These drugs showed no effect in changing money discounting. Collectively, these data suggest that delay and probability discounting are processes contributing to HIV risk behavior. The results also highlight the limitations of assessing discounting with only monetary outcomes.

Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, practitioners, and graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to: (1) identify similarities in results between the discounting of condom use and the discounting of money in humans and primary reinforcers in nonhumans; (2) describe the effects of methamphetamine, cocaine, and alcohol on the discounting of sexual and monetary outcomes; and (3) identify evidence indicating that monetary and nonmonetary tasks show differential relations with clinical variables of interest.
Keyword(s): drug-use disorders, risky behavior, sexual discounting



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