August 24, 2009
Heather Hoffmann, professor of psychology at Knox College, and Erick Janssen of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, have been awarded a grant of $275,000 from the National Institutes of Health to study behavioral intervention programs designed to reduce the spread of AIDS.
The two-year study will examine the role of learning processes in the development of compulsive behavior and alcohol consumption as triggers for sexual risk taking.
"Other studies have shown the link between sexual compulsivity and an increased risk for transmission of HIV/AIDS and other infections, yet little is known about compulsivity or the factors that affect an individual's ability to control it," Hoffmann said. "This study will be the first to look at the interaction of sexual compulsivity, learning processes and alcohol consumption, and their impact on self-regulation."
The grant will support research by Hoffmann and Janssen at Knox and at the Kinsey Institute; two two-year research associate positions - one at Knox and one at the Kinsey Institute; a two-year research assistant position at Kinsey; and a part-time software programmer position at Knox.
Hofmann's prior research includes studies of the role of conditioning in sexual response patterns in humans, as well as learning and conditioning processes in animals. For the past eight years she has collaborated with Janssen, who studies sexual response, sexual risk taking, mood and sexuality.
A member of the Knox College faculty since 1987, Hoffmann is a graduate of Lafayette College, and earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She has served as chair of the psychology department at Knox, and has won the Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize, Knox's award for distinguished teaching.
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 47 states and 48 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.