AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale (ADSS)

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In order to gain insight into the nature of how people discuss sexual topics such as AIDS with a potential sex partner, Snell and Finney (1990) developed the AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale (ADSS), an objective self-report instrument designed to measure the types of interpersonal discussion strategies that women and men use if they want to discuss AIDS with an intimate partner. The AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale (ADSS) was found to have subscales involving the use of six specific types of discussion tactics: rational strategies, defined as straightforward, reasonable attempts to discuss AIDS in a forthright manner with an intimate partner; manipulative strategies, defined as deceptive and indirect efforts to persuade an intimate partner to engage in conversation about AIDS; withdrawal strategies, defined as attempts to actually avoid any extended interpersonal contact with an intimate partner until this individual agrees to a discussion about AIDS; charm strategies, defined as acting in pleasant and charming ways toward an intimate partner in order to promote a discussion about AIDS; subtlety strategies, defined as involving the use of hinting and subtle suggestions in order to elicit a conversation about AIDS; and persistence strategies, defined as persistent and continuous attempts to try to influence an intimate partner to discuss AIDS. Description: The AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale (ADSS) consists of 72 items. Subjects respond to the 72 items on the AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale using a 5-point Likert scale: -2 = definitely would not do this, -1 = might not do this, 0 = not sure whether I would do this, 1 = might do this, and 2 = would definitely do this. To determine whether the 72 items on the AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale would form independent clusters of items, a principal axis components factor analysis with varimax rotation was conducted. Six factors with eigenvalues greater than 1 were extracted. Those items which loaded on unique factors (coefficients greater than |.30|) were used to construct 6 subscales for the AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale. The number of items on the respective subscales were: rational (26 items), manipulation (20 items), withdrawal (4 items), charm (5 items), subtlety (3 items), and persistence (4 items). The labels and items for the AIDS Discussion Strategy Scale (ADSS) subscales are: (1.) Rational (items 2, 4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 35, 37, 43, 49, 53, 55, 61, 65, 67); (2.) Manipulation (items 5, 6, 13, 20, 22, 24, 27, 38, 40, 42, 44, 45, 48, 52, 54, 57, 58, 69, 70, 72); (3.) Withdrawal (items 39, 51, 56, 63); (4.) Charm (items 9, 36, 60, 64, 66); (5.) Subtlety (items 3, 10, 50); and (6.) Persistence (items (7, 41, 46, 47). The ADSS items are coded so that A = -2, B = -1, C = 0, D = +1, and E = +2 (no items are reverse-coded). Then, the items on each subscale are averaged so that higher scores indicate a greater likelihood of using this type of AIDS-related discussion strategy.

Dr. William E. Snell, Jr.


Snell, W. E., Jr., & Finney, P. D. (1990). Interpersonal strategies associated with the discussion of AIDS. Annals of Sex Research, 3, 425-451.

Reliability analyses were conducted on each subscale using Cronbach’s alpha measure of inter-item consistency. In the first study conducted by Snell and Finney (1990), all 6 subscales were found to have more than adequate internal consistency: rational (.96), manipulation (.93), withdrawal (.83), charm (.81), subtlety (.74), and persistence (.81). In addition, the second investigation reported by Snell and Finney (1990) revealed that the internal consistency of the rational subscale was .96; for the manipulation subscale, .92; for the withdrawal subscale, .85; .82 for the charm subscale, .66 for the subtlety subscale, and .80 for the persistence ADSS subscale (based on 453 subjects).

HIV-Related Outcomes: