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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #470
Diversity submission A Verbal Behavior and Relational Frame Theory Examination of Sexuality, Gender, Privilege, and Power
Monday, May 27, 2019
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Fairmont, Lobby Level, Rouge
Area: CSS/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Glenna S. Hunter (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario)
Discussant: Worner Leland (Upswing Advocates)

Perceptions of sexuality, gender identity, and relationship structures are all shaped and maintained by our verbal communities. Additionally, verbal communities often have rules (both direct and implicit) that specify appropriate roles, and which reinforce alignment with those roles and punish stepping outside of them. Because of this, individuals who adhere to the rules of a verbal community through behavior or through endogenous traits often experience privilege- social advantages or benefits for aligning with the dominant group. Relational Frame Theory (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001) provides a framework for examining this ingrouping and outgrouping in verbal communities. This presentation provides a behavior analytic examination of identities and privilege and offers initial suggestions on behavior analytic approaches to ethically supporting clients with marginalized identities and on decreasing inequity in our verbal community at large.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): gender identity, jealousy, privilege, sexuality
Diversity submission Tacting Internal Experiences: Asexual and Aromantic Identities
JANANI VAIDYA (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Worner Leland (Upswing Advocates)
Abstract: Relational Frame Theory (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001) is a cognitive framework that defines language as operant behavior, in that language can be influenced by antecedent and consequent stimuli in the same manner as overt behavior. RFT further posits that language involves identifying stimuli as well as the act of relating stimuli events, and that changes in the function of these events can result in behavioral change. An important contribution of RFT is the concept of derived relational responding, i.e. the ability to train a few relations between arbitrary stimuli under the influence of certain contexts and derived a multitude of other relations that are not directly trained. One type of relation that can be trained in this manner are diectic frames of relational responding that rely on the perspective of the learner. This type of verbal responding is responding from a particular locus (Montoya-Rodríguez,McHugh, & Molina, 2016). This paper is an attempt to examine the formation of asexual and aromantic identities using relational framing. Specifically, how these communities have evolved to develop their specific language for types of relationships that fall outside of traditional definitions of romantic and sexual relationships and learning histories. Additionally, an examination of how to use perspective-taking to include an understanding of these orientations when disseminating sexual education, considering that they require the inclusion of the lack of specific covert behaviors or "desires" to be examined under the context of sexual behavior itself, is posited.
Diversity submission 

When Your Lover Loves Another: Understanding Jealousy and Compersion

GLENNA S. HUNTER (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario), August Stockwell (Upswing Advocates)

Jealousy — the emotion and collection of collateral responses that occur when a person is faced with a perceived threat to an important relationship — is a common source of distress within romantic and other close interpersonal relationships (Elphinston, Feeney, Noller, Conner, & Fitzgerald, 2013). In contrast, some people report an experience of compersion – joy in response to a partner experiencing emotional or sexual attraction toward and interactions with another person (Aumer, Bellew, Ito, Hatfield, & Heck, 2014). Jealousy and compersion are collections of responses emitted by individuals in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, and both can be understood in terms of their surrounding environmental contingencies. This presentation explores several potential contingencies at play in situations involving jealousy, and in so doing, identifies ways in which contingencies may be altered to produce a reduction in jealous responding. Finally, potential contingencies involved in compersion are presented, and suggestions made as to how it may be fostered within relationships in which compersion is a goal.

Diversity submission 

CANCELED: Toward Gender Euphoria: A Behavior Analytic Conceptualization of Body Image Flexibility

Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Worner Leland (Upswing Advocates), TOEKNEE MORALES (N/A)

Body image has been studied through many psychological lenses, but for transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals, traditional approaches to body image which focus on body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) may not be appropriate or account for the unique verbal behavior which contributes to gender dysphoria (Garcia-Falgueras, 2014). Gender dysphoria can include a discomfort with how one is treated based on cultural perceptions of physical stimuli. Conversely, gender euphoria can include experiences of joy from being treated in ways that align with one's identity, irrespective of assumptions based on physical stimuli. Psychological inflexibility may be a useful construct to examine body image, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) tools may assist in addressing BDD. These may or may not be useful when examining gender dysphoria and gender euphoria. This paper will examine the utility of this model when examining dysmorphia when contrasted with dysphoria, the ways in which language around each may be shaped, and components of ACT tools which may be useful across populations.

Diversity submission Beyond Checking: A Behavioral Analysis of Privilege as a Manipulable Context
EMILY KENNISON SANDOZ (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Karen Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi), Evelyn Rachael Gould (McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School; FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.)
Abstract: Privilege involves the advantages or benefits accessed by members of dominant groups at the expense of members of nondominant groups. For example, in the U.S., privilege is generally granted to members of groups who are: white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisgender, male, Christian, middle or owning class, middle-aged, and/or English-speaking. Over the past decade, activists have increasingly called for us to “check our privilege,” or to acknowledge ways that our social status may have given us advantages (often unrequested, unearned, and unnamed advantages) while others of different social status suffered disadvantages. Describing, predicting, and understanding the inequities privilege creates is certainly important. And, as behavior analysts, we challenge ourselves to extend the analysis beyond describing, predicting, and understanding behavior to influencing it. In this way, a behavioral analysis of these inequities necessarily involves considering privilege, not merely in terms of personal characteristics, but in terms of the manipulable contexts those characteristics afford. This paper will review traditional conceptualizations of privilege, provide a behavior analytic conceptualization of privilege, and offer initial suggestions on a behavior analytic approach to studying, and intervening on privilege to decrease inequity.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh