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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #23
Recent Advances in the Analysis of Gambling Behavior
Saturday, May 28, 2005
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Boulevard B (2nd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Charles A. Lyons (Eastern Oregon University)
Discussant: Charles A. Lyons (Eastern Oregon University)
Abstract: This symposium will address how issues related to verbal behavior and the matching law affect gambling behavior.
Verbal Repertoires That Predict Gambling Behavior: The Illusion of Control
W. SCOTT WOOD (Drake University), Maria M. Clapham (Drake University)
Abstract: Research has demonstrated the presence of several erroneous beliefs and misunderstandings about the nature of games of chance among gamblers. Research also suggests that one particular erroneous belief, the illusion of control, is perhaps the strongest trait predictor of gambling. In this investigation, there is a specific focus on the predictability of gambling behavior based on an individual's belief, as expressed on a trait assessment instrument, about his/her ability to predict or control the outcome of games of chance. The strength of this variable is assessed and correlated with the frequency and amount of gambling behavior in sample populations of college students, adults and in-treatment problem gamblers.
A Single-Subject Approach to Investigating Payback Probability and Win Rate
ANDREW E BRANDT (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Weatherly and Brandt (2004), using both within-subject and between-groups design experiments investigated the effects of payback probability (PP) and credit value on the behavior of non-pathological gamblers (as determined by the South Oaks Gambling Screen) while playing a computer-based simulated slot machine. PP is the net outcome of games of chance and is represented as the ratio between the total credits won divided by the total number of credits bet (across some number of trials). The authors report the manipulation of PP had no statistically significant effect on any measure of gambling behavior. The following experiments sought to extend these findings. The goal of Experiment 1 was to replicate the findings of Weatherly and Brandt (2004) using a single-subject design. In Experiment 1, three participants were exposed to four levels of PP (0.5, 0.75, 0.95, and 1.10) twice, while playing a computer-based simulated slot machine. Experiment 2 was designed to investigate the effects of win rate (WR) on measures of gambling. WR refers to the density of winning trials that occur throughout a set of gambling trials, and can be represented as the ratio between the total number of winning trials and the total number of losing trials. Using a single-subject design, three participants experienced three levels of WR (0.5, 0.15, and 0.25) twice, while playing a computer-based simulated slot machine. Self-report measures were obtained regarding the participant’s strategies and perceptions of the task in both experiments. Preliminary results suggest that humans may be sensitive to PP. In addition, all participants have reported forming rules that dictated the manner in which they played the slot simulation. Such rule generation may play a crucial role in understanding the effects of PP and WR.
Foraging for a Win: Melioration or Optimal Foraging?
JUSTIN ALBRECHTSEN (University of Northern Iowa), Dustin Daugherty (University of Northern Iowa), Otto H. Maclin (University of Northern Iowa)
Abstract: Optimal foraging involves prey selection where the organism maximizes the overall amount of reinforcement derived from the foraging. On the other hand, melioration involves the decrease in reinforcement relative to local rates of reinforcement rather than overall reinforcement. The research presented here examines optimal foraging and melioration in slot machine gambling using a dual monitor preference paradigm. Participants will have access to two slot machines controlled by one computer using a progressive ratio schedule. In a second study a change over delay was added. Results are discussed in terms of the contingencies set in a casino environment.



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