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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #484
BIG SIG Symposium II: Emerging Research in the Study of Gambling Behavior
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
10:00 AM–11:20 AM
Madeleine CD
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Adam D. Hahs (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)
Abstract: Topics will include recent research findings for gambling.
The Effect of Male Confederate Ethnic Identity and Actions on Native American and Non-Native Americans' "Gambling" Behavior.
CASEY LEE MCDOUGALL (University of North Dakota), Guy Keener (University of North Dakota), Kyle Hill (University of North Dakota), Ben Hargreaves (University of North Dakota), Jeffrey N. Weatherly (University of North Dakota)
Abstract: Native American populations have found to have a two to five times higher rate of problematic gambling than non-Native American populations, but little research from the behavior-analytic and culture perspective has been done on the topic. The present study consisted of an experiment that had male participants play a computer-simulated slot machine. The variables manipulated were the ethnicity of the participant, the research confederate and confederate action. This experiment investigated each variable using a within-subjects design. Each participant (N=16) was required to complete five gambling sessions. Results showed that both the confederates ethnicity and their actions during the session influenced the gambling behavior of the participants. The findings of this study may have potential implications for why some people display "problem gambling." This research will also hopefully promote research on a topic that has been largely ignored by the field of behavior analysis.
Equivalence Relations in Texas Hold ‘Em.
JAMES W. JACKSON (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Recent analysis of decisions made by experienced poker players in hypothetical game play scenarios indicates that prior investment in hands as well as the long run mathematical expectation of wagers may be factors that explain why players continue with hands when all available information indicates that a win is unlikely. Another possible factor is that certain starting hands may share stimulus functions based on a history or reinforcement. In the current analysis relatively inexperienced Texas Hold ‘Em players were asked to play a modified simulation of Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. In this simulation participants were dealt two cards and asked to play the first round of betting the way they would in a regular game. Subjects played multiple randomized trials with the preset starting hands in 3 different betting positions (Late Position, Early Position, Middle Position). Participants were then asked to complete a matching to sample task intended to establish 4 groups of starting hands as equivalence classes. These groupings of starting hands were grouped based on a popular poker strategy book which suggests that hands within these groups should be played the same way during the first round of betting in a game of Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. After demonstration of the equivalence classes, Participants were faced with an additional matching to sample task intended to establish relations of greater than and less then between the 4 equivalence classes. Participants then played the same Texas Hold ‘Em simulation. The degree to which hands from the 4 groups were played the same way in the 3 different betting positions during both the pre and post matching to sample simulations were assessed. Results and implications are discussed.
Participants' Sensitivity to Payback Percentages when Given the Choice of Gambling on Two Slot Machines.
DAVID P. AUSTIN (University of North Dakota), Marisa Hodney (University of North Dakota), Jeffrey N. Weatherly (University of North Dakota)
Abstract: Previous research from our laboratory has suggested that gamblers' behavior is insensitive to differences in percentage payback when playing a simulated slot machine, at least when the winning percentages are below 100%. That research, however, had participants play a single slot machine during one or only several relative short sessions (i.e., 15 min). The present experiment tested participants' sensitivity by giving people the option of playing two concurrently available slot machines. The payout percentages on each slot machine ranged from 83 to 97% across conditions, with participants experiencing six different percentage-payback combinations across the six conditions. Furthermore, sessions were 20 min in length and were conducted until the participant's gambling behavior had stabilized. Results demonstrated that although participants' behavior generally tracked toward the higher paying slot machine, violations still occurred. The results therefore indicate that gambling behavior is sensitive to differences in percentage payback, but that other factors (e.g., biases, self-generated rules) strongly influence gambling behavior.
Gambling and Changes in the Discounting Function: Do Known Risk Factors for Pathological Gambling Predict Discounting?
SAMANTHA CHASE (University of North Dakota), Adam Derenne (University of North Dakota), Jeffrey N. Weatherly (University of North Dakota)
Abstract: The research literature on gambling behavior suggests that pathological gamblers discount delayed rewards at a greater rate than non-pathological gamblers. This change may serve as one of the causal mechanisms that leads to pathology. The present study investigated whether the known risk factors for gambling (e.g., gender, SES, minority group membership) are themselves related to changes in discounting functions. To make this determination, participants were asked to complete a series of hypothetical choices that differed in the amount of money available immediately and the delay to a larger amount of money. Information on the known risk factors were also collected and then used as predictor variables in a multiple regression, with rate of decay of the delayed reward as the dependent measure. Results demonstrated that several of the risk factors were significant predictors of how steeply participants discounted delayed rewards. These results support the idea that these factors are serving as establishing operations within a behavioral model of gambling.



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