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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #185
Contributions of Different Choice Procedures to the Study of Self-Control, Social, and Addictive Behavior
Monday, May 30, 2016
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Zurich D, Swissotel
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Raul Avila (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
Discussant: Leonard Green (Washington University)

The purpose of this symposium is twofold: (1) to describe extensions of the discounting framework to the study of addictive and social behavior, and (2) to demonstrate contributions of the resistance-to-temptation paradigm to the study of self-controlled behavior. The first presentation compares temporal and probability discounting of monetary gains and of monetary losses by tobacco smokers and non-smokers. The second presentation extends the methodology of temporal and probability discounting of both gains and losses of different rewards by cocaine- and marihuana-dependent users, and demonstrates that delay and probability discounting involve separated processes. The third presentation documents a reversal-of-preferences effect in a social discounting procedure, in which physical distance between individuals is used as a metric of social distance. The final presentation describes two examples of the resistance-to-temptation paradigm, specifically delay of gratification and refraining, used to study self-controlled behavior with the watching of videos as the reward. In addition to the contributions to our understanding of addictive and social behavior, the symposium integrates discounting, delay of gratification, and refraining to demonstrate a continuum of procedures in the study of self-controlled behavior.

Keyword(s): Resisting-tempation paradigm, Self-control behavior, Social behavior, Temporal discounting

Temporal and Probability Discounting of Different Rewards by Tobacco Users

SILVIA MORALES CHAINE (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Alejandra Lopez Montoya (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

The generality of delay and probability discounting across reward-types by tobacco users is unclear. Hence, 29 tobacco users and 29 controls were exposed to delay and probability discounting tasks using an adjusting immediate amount procedure. The rewards used were free-time activities, non-alcoholic preferred drinking beverages, $200, and $3000 Mexican pesos, at five delays (1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year and 3 years). Additionally, level of tobacco dependence was measured. The hyperbolic function and area-under-the-curve analyses from the data for each delayed and probabilistic outcome were calculated. Tobacco users discounted the value of the delayed $3,000 reward more steeply than control participants. No systematic differences between tobacco users and controls were found with delay or probability discounting for any of the other rewards tested. These results suggest that a magnitude effect could be responsible for the differences found between the discounting rates of delayed money by tobacco users and controls. Moreover, the purpose of this study was partially accomplished because the generality of discounting of different rewards by tobacco users seems to depend on state variables like the reward-type.


Delay and Probability Discounting for Gains and Losses in Drug Users

Diana Mej�a Cruz (National Autonomous University of Mexico), SILVIA MORALES CHAINE (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Javier Nieto Gutierrez (National Automonous University of Mexico), Leonard Green (Washington University), Joel Myerson (Washington University)

Drug users discount the value of delayed monetary outcomes more steeply than control participants, suggesting greater impatience, but little is known about the discounting of probabilistic rewards. The goal of the current study was to assess delay and probability discounting of several hypothetical outcomes by marijuana- and cocaine-dependent users to find combinations of risky choices and impatience behavior characteristic of drug users. 30 marijuana-dependent, 30 cocaine-dependent, and 30 control participants completed delay and probability discounting tasks. An adjusting immediate amount procedure was used. Both delay and probability discounting of four gains ($200, $3000, free-time activities, and non-alcoholic preferred drinking beverages) and one loss ($1,500) were studied. The results showed that cocaine users discounted delayed monetary gains more steeply than marijuana users and control participants. There were no significant differences between participants for the other delayed and probabilistic outcomes. Of significance, factor and correlational analyses showed that delay discounting of gains involves underlying processes that are different from those involved in probability discounting of gains, and that the processes underlying losses differ from those underlying gains.


Preferences Reversal in Altruistic Behavior Along Different Physical Social Distances

ALDO TOLEDO (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Raul Avila (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Altruism is commonly defined as a behavior in which an individual (P0) gives a benefit to another person (PN) rather than retaining it for himself. A special case of altruism is one in which somebody has the option to give a benefit to one of two individuals who are at different social distances from him, and he gives the benefit to the socially more distant person (PN+M) rather than to the closer one (PN). Following this last definition, in the current study the stability of the altruistic behavior or whether there would be a preference-reversal effect was determined by decreasing social distance. Each of 117 participants were exposed to each of four social discounting tasks; in each task, the participants had to choose between a smaller reward for PN and a larger reward for PN+M. Social distance between PN+M and PN, and between the participant and PN, was varied within and between tasks, respectively. In general, participants showed lower social discounting rates (greater areas under the curve), or more "altruistic" behavior, as their distance from PN individuals increased. These findings contribute to the generality of the hyperbolic model as one that predicts preferences reversals in altruistic behavior.


Resisting the "Temptation" to Obtain a Reward as a Paradigm of Self-Control Behavior in Humans

RAUL AVILA (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Brenda Estela Ortega (National Autonomus University of Mexico)

Self-control can be defined as refraining from obtaining an available reward until a pre-specified requirement is reached. This paradigm was developed with pigeons responding for food reinforcers. The generality of this paradigm to humans and to other reward types was tested in the current study. Thirty-two adults were exposed to pairs of TV videos. The first video was always presented within a time cycle, and the other video could be presented once the cycle elapsed, according to the following contingency. Trying to play the first video would remove it and cancel the second video presentation. Otherwise, if the person refrained from playing the first video, the second video presentation would occur once the cycle elapsed and could be played. Time-cycle lengths of 32, 64, or 128 s were combined with first-video durations of 8, 32, 64 or 128 s. As the duration of the first-video presentation increased, the percentage of second-video presentations earned per session decreased, and this effect was modulated by the time-cycle duration. The implications of this procedure for self-control theory and its relation with other self-control procedures, such as delay of gratification, are also discussed.




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