This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

What Would You Do for a Date?: Using a Conjugate Preparation to Validate the Outcomes of a Demand Task on Preference




Edgemon, Anna Kate

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Psychological Sciences


Satterwhite et al. (2013) reported individuals aged 15-24 years account for nearly half of all sexually transmitted infections reported each year in the United States. This may be attributed to risky health decision-making such as sex without a condom, sex with multiple partners, injecting drugs, or some combination thereof. Behavior analytic and economic paradigms have been used to examine sexual demand and sexual health decision-making. To evaluate demand for commodities for which delivery of the commodity is not feasible ethically or logistically, researchers often use commodity purchase tasks (CPTs). Relatedly, schedules of covariation have been proposed as a method for evaluating behavior-environment relations wherein responses and reinforcers naturally covary, as the case may be with sexual behavior. Thus, the purpose of this series of translational studies was to replicate and extend previous research evaluating demand for hypothetical romantic partners. In both studies, participants completed rank order preference assessments using images of potential sexual partners and then completed corresponding CPTs for their high, median, and low preferred partner as identified in the preference assessment. Then, participants completed a conjugate preparation in which images on screen increased in clarity only when increasing forces are applied to a hand dynamometer. Using data from each study, the researcher evaluated correspondence between sexual demand and force exerted. Strong correlation between these two methods of assessment may improve the clinical utility of conjugate preparations. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.