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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #47
CE Offered: BACB
Having a Gay Day: Distress and Psychological Flexibility Among LGBTQ Communities
Sunday, May 29, 2016
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Crystal Ballroom C, Hyatt Regency, Green West
Area: CBM/VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Benjamin Ramos (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Discussant: Thomas G. Szabo (Florida Institute of Technology)
CE Instructor: Thomas G. Szabo, Ph.D.
Abstract: The legalization of gay marriage throughout the United States combined with an increased degree of support for gay rights has made this an historic decade for the gender and sexual minority (GSM) community. However, GSM stigma and discrimination remain a significant problem across many different domains of living. How individuals respond to ongoing GSM discrimination and to efforts to decrease that discrimination may be, in part, attributable to certain psychological skills for experiencing unwanted cognitions and emotions. This symposium will explore the role of psychological flexibility in GSM stigma and discrimination. The first paper will explore the role of psychological flexibility in predicting LGBTQ stigma. The second paper will explore the role of psychological flexibility in predicting GSM individuals’ reactions to perceived LGBTQ stigma. The implications of both studies for promoting continued societal change will be discussed.
Keyword(s): gender identity, psychological flexibility, sexual orientation, stigma
Examining Psychological Flexibility and Willingness to Engage in Behaviors That Benefit Members of the LGBTQ Campus Community
MAUREEN FLYNN (Metropolitan State University of Denver)
Abstract: Although acceptance of gender and sexual minorities is increasing in the United States, individuals in the LGBTQ community continue to experience negative responses from society. LGBTQ individuals can internalize such negative responses, which can lead to psychological difficulties (e.g., Szymanski, Kashubeck-West, & Meyer, 2008; Meyer & Dean, 1998). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions, which are designed to increase psychological flexibility, have been shown to decrease stigmatizing attitudes towards substance abusers (Hayes et al., 2004) and people with mental illness (Masuda et al., 2007). Psychological flexibility is also related to attitudes towards other ethnicities (Levin, Luoma, Lillis, Hayes, & Vilardaga, 2014). To date, there aren’t any published studies examining psychological flexibility with LGBTQ-related stigmatizing thoughts. The aims of this study were to examine 1) the relationship between psychological flexibility and homophobia and transphobia and 2) whether psychological flexibility moderates the relationship between negative attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals and willingness to engage in behaviors that help the LGBT community among Hispanic college students.

Stigma in Context: Perceived Discrimination, Psychological Distress, and Coping of Gender and Sexual Minorities

ALYSON GIESEMANN (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Lauren Griffin (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Gender and sexual minorities experience stigma and discrimination in a number of domains, leaving them at an increased risk of psychological distress, mental health symptomatology, and risk-taking behaviors. Some GSM individuals are resilient, however, thriving even in the face of clear discrimination and subsequent distress. It may be that the impact of discrimination and distress depends on the psychological skills one applies. For example, both self-compassion and psychological flexibility have been shown to mitigate the impact of psychological stressors on well-being. The current study aimed to consider 1) the extent to which daily experiences of perceived discrimination lead to psychological distress and disruption of well-being in GSM individuals and 2) how psychological flexibility, self-compassion and other coping mechanisms might mitigate the impact of perceived discrimination on distress and well-being. Participants tracked their daily experiences of discrimination, their private reactions to those experiences, and functions of those reactions. Implications for interventions targeting discrimination-relevant distress and dysfunction will be discussed.




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