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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #516
Experimental Analyses of Gambling Behavior
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Chicago & Alton
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Nicholas Mui (Southern Illinois University)
Discussant: Charles A. Lyons (Eastern Oregon University)
Abstract: Gambling is becoming a more socially relevant issue, and there is an increasing need for the research and analysis of gambling behavior. Basic experimental research may provide us with information about the variables that maintain gambling behavior. This symposium is intended to discuss some basic research concerning variables that might influence the choices individuals make when presented with the opportunity to gamble. This symposium will include presentations on several topics: a probabilistic choice procedure that produces tokens which were then used for gambling; an examination of the relationship between age, delay discounting, and gambling; and a procedure that utilized delay discounting with real rewards and delays.
Gambling with Earned Tokens: An Alternative to Staking Participants with House Money.
ANDREW E BRANDT (Western Michigan University), Cynthia J. Pietras (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Behavior analytic investigations of gambling often use casino-style games (blackjack, roulette, craps, slot machines, etc.) or computer simulations of those games. In these investigations, participants gamble with tokens given to them by the researcher at the onset of the experiment or session. Regardless of whether the tokens were or were not exchangeable for something of value following the experiment, due to ethical considerations the participants did not typically place anything of personal value at risk in order to initially acquire the tokens. The present study investigated gambling behavior using an apparatus that required participants to earn tokens before they could place a bet on a game of chance. This procedure required participants to repeatedly choose between a guaranteed token production option and betting on a game of chance. Participants could chose the guaranteed token production option on any trial, but could only chose the gambling option when they had enough tokens to place a bet. The value of the token production contingency was manipulated across conditions while the cost and percentage payback of the gambling option was held constant.
Delay Discounting and Age as Predictors of Gambling.
JOANNA MARIE MARINO (University of North Dakota), Brendan Slagle (University of North Dakota), F. Richard Ferraro (University of North Dakota), Jeffrey N. Weatherly (University of North Dakota)
Abstract: Research has demonstrated that pathological gamblers discount delayed monetary consequences more steeply than non-gamblers. However, research has not documented whether individuals who discount differently actually gamble differently. Pathological gambling is also associated with age, with young individuals being most prone to being diagnosed. Again, however, it has not been demonstrated that people gamble differently as they age. The present study recruited 40 individuals between the ages of 21 and 90 years. Participants completed a delay discounting task and then were given the opportunity to gamble money they had been staked on a slot machine. Results questioned the idea that discounting or age was predictive of how individuals gamble. The present results suggest that mediating factors may account for the associations found in gambling literature.
Examining Delay Discounting of Hypothetical and Real Money in Recreational Gambling.
NICHOLAS MUI (Southern Illinois University), James W. Jackson (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Gambling is becoming a more socially relevant issue with approximately 1-3% of the U.S. population being diagnosed as pathological gamblers. In past research, gamblers have been shown to discount delayed rewards more steeply than immediate rewards, and discounting procedures may have utility in helping us understand gambling behavior. However, there has been little research to demonstrate differences between hypothetical discounting procedures and actual delay discounting when individuals experienced the delays associated with a chosen reward. The current study examined the discounting behavior of undergraduate students at a large Midwestern university when they were exposed to hypothetical delay discounting procedures and real delay discounting procedures. Participants were first exposed to a hypothetical delay discounting procedure. Then, participants were exposed to a real delay discounting procedure where they chose between two delay options and had to experience an actual delay before receiving points which were exchanged for money at the end of the session. Several participants earned casino chips corresponding to the amounts earned during the real delay discounting procedure and had the opportunity to engage in gambling games such as roulette and slots to earn more money. The results and implications will be discussed.



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