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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #244
BIG SIG Symposium 4: Maintaining Variables of Gambling Behavior 2
Sunday, May 24, 2009
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
North 227 BC
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: James W. Jackson (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale)
Discussant: Jessica L. Fouch (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: The present symposium is dedicated to further address mitigating factors influencing gambling behavior in various paradigms. Discussion of such variables is offered with respect to the influence and production of gambling behavior while in these various settings. Insight to ways in which gambling behavior may be influenced is offered.
Reduction of Superstitious Behavior of Gamblers through Aversive Conditioning
BECKY L. NASTALLY (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Recreational and pathological gamblers were exposed to slot machines containing response options that had no bearing on spin outcome. In one condition players were given the opportunity to press buttons to stop the spinning wheels, though outcome was predetermined by the machine. In another condition, 5 different colored buttons were positioned below the slot reels and made auditory sounds but did not impact spin outcome. Results show that most participants chose to engage in these superstitious behaviors (button pressing) when given the opportunity to do so. A brief intervention of information regarding the independence of spins, and irrelevance of button pressing reduced superstitious behavior but did not exclusively eliminate it. A subsequent intervention of aversive conditioning suppressed superstitious behavior to a greater degree.
Investigating the Effects of Laboratory Gambling Procedures on Risk Preference
ANDREW E. BRANDT (Western Michigan University), Cynthia J. Pietras (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Behavior analytic laboratory investigations of gambling have typically presented participants with a single or concurrent gambling task (blackjack, roulette, poker, or slot machine) on which participants may risk tokens provided by the researcher. Because the reinforcement and punishment contingencies as well as motivating variables found in these procedures may differ from those in the natural gambling environment, it may be useful to determine how such deviations influence gambling observed in a laboratory environment. The current studies used a laboratory gambling task that presented participants with concurrent gambling and non-gambling alternatives to test the effects on gambling of (a) providing participants with a concurrent non-gambling alternative and (b) requiring participants to earn tokens. Experiment 1 investigated participants’ preference for a gamble when a choice for the non-gambling option terminated all remaining trials (single-schedule) or only the current trial (concurrent schedule). Experiment 2 investigated participants’ preference for a gamble when (a) participants were or were not given tokens prior to the session and (b) the value of the tokens earned on the non-gambling option was varied. The extent to which the results of these investigations inform current laboratory gambling procedures will be discussed.
Effects of accurate and inaccurate contingency specifying rules on slot machine preference and verbal behavior of recreational gamblers.
JAMES W. JACKSON (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The current study examined the effects of contingency specifying rules on the allocation of responses to concurrently available slot machines. After initial baseline exposure to concurrently available slot machines of equal payback percentages, Participants received one of 5 randomly assigned rules, and were re-exposed to the same slot machines with the payback percentages surreptitiously adjusted to favor one slot machine. Rules delivered to participants differed based on the contingency specified and could be either accurate or inaccurate in regards to the initial contingencies experienced or the contingencies in place after the rule was delivered. After 60 trials under the new contingency the payback percentages were surreptitiously adjusted to zero to create extinction conditions. Participants’ allocations of responses to each slot machine during all phases were recorded. In addition Participants were required to talk aloud during the entire study. All verbal behavior was analyzed using Protocol Analysis procedures. Results indicate that participants follow the rule provided to varying degrees regardless of the actual contingencies experienced. Result and implications in regards to managing problem or pathological gambling will be discussed.



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