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 #101
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in the Behavior Analysis of Gambling
Sunday, May 29, 2016
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Zurich FG, Swissotel
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: David Legaspi (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
Discussant: Seth W. Whiting (Yale University)
CE Instructor: Ryan C. Speelman, M.S.
Abstract: Advances in a behavioral analysis of gambling have emphasized the functions of gambling behavior rather than merely the form of this pervasive behavioral addiction. Increasingly, the interactions between verbal behavior and direct contingencies are being explored in basic human operant laboratories with the potential for providing meaningful treatment for disordered gamblers. The studies reviewed highlight the interaction between the environment and gambling behavior, both inside and outside of a casino setting, and provide avenues for future research on this socially valid issue.
Keyword(s): Defusion, Derived Rules, Discounting, Gambling

Exploring the Convergent Validity of Functional Assessments and Experimental Functional Analyses With Gambling

TYLER GLASSFORD (St. Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University), Daniel Tourigny (Saint Louis University), Sophia Howard (Saint Louis University)

The purpose of the present study was to create a methodology for conducting experimental functional analyses on gambling behaviors, and test the convergent validity of the Gambling Functional Assessment (GFA) and Gambling Functional Assessment-Revised (GFA-R) with results obtained from the functional analysis. Pathological and recreational gamblers completed all study procedures in a gambling lab in the Midwest. Functional assessments were counterbalanced across participants, to control for order effects. During the experimental functional analysis, participants were asked to gamble on one of four slot machines. Each slot machine had a concurrent random ratio (RR) and fixed time (FT) 30s reinforcement schedule, where additional reinforcers were provided across four conditions (social attention, escape, tangible, sensory). Participants were instructed to play on each machine for 2min, prior to completing a free play condition. Next, participants were provided a vignette derived from items on the GFA and GFA-R, prior to selecting a machine to play on for 2min. Slot machine selection was recorded across each 2min trial. Cumulative records indicate response differentiation across slot machines for all participants. Convergent validity results to date suggest the current methodology is consistent with outcomes generated by the GFA-R.

Investigating Derived Rule Following Across Casino Games
SOPHIA HOWARD (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: The current study replicated and extended previous research on derived rule-following during two casino games (slots and roulette). Adult gamblers were stacked with a $100 credit voucher to use across all games during the study. The order games were played was counterbalanced across participants, to control for order effects. Throughout the study, five arbitrary stimuli were posted around each of the games, and participants were instructed to follow the symbols to get out of the task quicker. Following baseline play, all participants completed a computerized conditional discrimination task, where training established a rule based on a feature of the games (e.g., bet on [color]; bet big on [color] to win; etc.). Gamblers were instructed to tact the rule using fill-in-the blank and multiple-choice measures before and after training, to assess the degree to which the rule (e.g., “bet on [color]; bet big on [color]”) had derived after training. Following training, participants responded appropriately to the fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions. Further, participant response allocation towards casino games with similar features (color) of training increased. Implications for conceptual development of self-generated rule formation and subsequent following, particularly in the development for treatment, will be discussed.
Using ACT to Reduce Impulsive Choice and Contextual Control in Gambling
RYAN C. SPEELMAN (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Jordan Belisle (Southern Illinois University), Dana Paliliunas (Southern Illinois University), Karl Gunnarsson (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
Abstract: Impulsive decision making and inaccurate rule following are two classes of behavior that are related to several addictive behaviors including pathological gambling. Mindfulness and defusion exercises may be used to undermine the literal content of verbal behavior and increase the saliency of direct experience thereby reducing impulsive choice and rule following. In study one 34 participants watched a 9-min and 25-s mindfulness instructional video to examine the effects on delay discounting, a behavior analytic model of impulsivity. Results indicated a significant decrease in discounting scores after watching the mindfulness video (p < .01). In study two 21 participants were taught to select stimuli of differing physical qualities in a relational training task establishing a contextual cue of black as GREATER-THAN and red as LESS-THAN. Following relational training, half of the participants underwent a defusion exercise. The results show that 82% of participants who did not undergo the defusion exercise showed an increase preference for a black slot-machine in a simulated slot-machine task, and all participants who underwent the defusion activity allocated their responding closer to what would be expected due to the contingencies alone. ACT exercises may reduce the influence of rules and contextual features that promote destructive behavior patterns.

Do Setting Events Alter the Rate of Probability Discounting?

KARL GUNNARSSON (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

The current discounting literature in impulsivity research indicates that impulsivity may be a multifactorial concept. The potential sources that may lead to impulsivity have yet to be completely identified. Among the variables that are considered to play a role in impulsive choice are setting events. Yet, limited research has been conducted on how setting events may affect risky choice, which is one part of the multifactorial concept. In the current study the researchers investigated how grade standing in a course influenced the rate of discounting on an actual probabilistic discounting task. Twenty college students participated for the chance to earn extra credit worth up to 3% of their final grade, through a game of roulette. The roulette game was arranged to mirror the traditional probability-discounting task. Participants were staked with a proportion of their extra credit to gamble with and told that they could earn up to 3% of their final grade. An analysis of the rate of discounting and academic standing was made. The results and implications of the current study are discussed with regard to pathological gambling, risk taking with regard to setting events, behavioral economics, and the effectiveness of self reported discounting tasks.




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