Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Dana Paliliunas


The current thesis includes two studies that account for aspects of LGBTQIA2S+ experiences. The first study explored verbal behavior involved in stereotyping. Relational Density Theory (RDT; Belisle & Dixon, 2020) offers a model for conceptualizing relational strength of environmental stimuli, such as those contributing to stereotypes based on sexuality. Participants in the present study completed a multidimensional scaling procedure using an RDT framework by rating the degree of relatedness between stimulus pairings. Stimuli included a series of sexualities (e.g., gay man), as well as adjectives (e.g., masculine). A brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, 2004) based defusion exercise was utilized to weaken relational classes involved in stereotyping. Participant responses indicated that straight men are perceived as more natural, realistic, masculine, monogamous, and athletic compared to straight women, gay men, lesbian women, bisexual men, and bisexual women. After completing a defusion intervention, changes were observed in relational classes in which all identity stimuli were seen as highly related to one another. The second line of research in this thesis explored experiences of well-being in LGBTQIA2S+ college students enrolled at a Midwestern university in the United States. This correlational procedure indicated that LGBTQIA2S+ students reported lower psychological flexibility, student well-being, self-compassion, perceived social support, and GPA when compared to non-LGBTQIA2S+ students. Both of these studies highlight a significant need for more initiatives involving support and inclusion for LGBTQIA2S+ individuals involving efforts at all levels of high-impact systems such as universities.


LGBTQIA2S+, stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, relational frames, relational density, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, defusion, social support, inclusion

Subject Categories

Applied Behavior Analysis | Clinical Psychology | Community Psychology


© Breanna Ashtyn Lee

Available for download on Friday, May 01, 2026

Open Access