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.


Fourth International Conference; Australia, 2007

Event Details

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Paper Session #17
International Paper Session - Gambling and Behaviour Analysis
Monday, August 13, 2007
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
L2 Room 2
Area: EAB
Chair: Simon Dymond (University of Wales, Swansea)
The Role of Establishing Operations in the Maintenance of Gambling Behavior.
Domain: Experimental Analysis
JEFFREY N. WEATHERLY (University of North Dakota), Samantha Chase (University of North Dakota), Adam Derenne (University of North Dakota)
Abstract: Although the literature on gambling is immense, the experimental analysis of gambling behavior is still in its infancy. Researchers have established that certain contingencies (e.g., intermittent schedules, response cost) contribute to gambling behavior. They have also developed tools to help determine which of the consequences associated with gambling may be maintaining gambling in individuals who suffer from problem gambling. More recently, a number of studies have demonstrated that pathological gamblers discount delayed rewards more steeply than do non-pathological gamblers. This alteration in delay discounting can potentially explain why some individuals come to suffer pathological gambling whereas others do not. What has not been explained, however, is how the change in delay discounting comes about. Our laboratory has been pursuing the idea that certain factors such as socio-economic status and minority group membership may serve as establishing operations, altering the efficacy of money as a reinforcer, and thus leading to changes in delay discounting. To test these ideas, participants were asked to make a series of hypothetical choices between a variable amount of money available immediately and $1,000 available after a delay. These data were used to compute participants' discounting function. Using a regression analysis, we then tested whether factors hypothesized as establishing operations predicted the steepness of the participants' discounting. Consistent with the hypotheses, several such factors were significant predictors. These results thus bolster the idea that establishing operations are at play in gambling situations. They also promote the idea that the four-term contingency is a useful and fruitful approach to the study of gambling behavior.
Success Modulates Anxiety in a Simulated Gambling Task.
Domain: Experimental Analysis
STEPHEN PROVOST (Southern Cross University), Jessica Buckley (Southern Cross University), Lewis A. Bizo (Southern Cross University)
Abstract: One potential source of reinforcement for gambling behaviour is through reduction of anxiety postulated in contemporary theories such as the Pathways Model (Blaszczynski & Nower, 2002). Gee, Birkenhead and Coventry (2005) provided evidence for an association between anxiety and gambling episodes in disordered gamblers undergoing treatment. In this experiment 30 participants classified as non-problem gamblers were exposed to three different gambling outcomes (win, lose or break-even) in a laboratory-based gambling simulation. Half of the participants received a mood-induction session designed to reduce anxiety prior to the simulated gambling episodes. Anxiety was assessed after each gambling episode using a brief self-report measure. Levels of anxiety were generally quite low, and the mood induction was not successful in altering anxiety levels. However reported anxiety was systematically related to the gambling outcome in each episode, being lowest following a winning streak and highest following a losing streak. These data are consistent with a negative reinforcement explanation for some aspects of gambling behaviour. The participants’ general response to this task also suggests that a laboratory-based simulation such as the one employed here provides sufficient “realism” to serve as a valuable tool in the acquisition of data for understanding this complex real-world problem.
Contextual Control of Response Allocation to Concurrently Available Slot Machines.
Domain: Experimental Analysis
SIMON DYMOND (University of Wales, Swansea), Alice E. Hoon (University of Wales, Swansea), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Jim Jackson (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: A recent study by Zlomke and Dixon (2006) showed that responding on two, concurrently available simulated slot machines may come under non-arbitrary contextual control. Specifically, these researchers found that when the background colour of each slot machine was established as a contextual cue for more-than and less-than, respectively, higher rates of responding were observed in the presence of the ‘more-than’ cue, despite each machine having equal payoff probability. The present study sought to systematically replicate and extend this finding by (a) employing a novel nonarbitrary relational training and test procedure, (b) manipulating the presence/absence of a prior sorting test, (c) reversing the contextual functions, and (d) obtaining self-report measures of potential problem gambling. Findings will be discussed in terms of the role of verbal, relational processes in the maintenance of gambling.



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