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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #451
Delay Discounting: New Reports on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism, Unusual Occupations, SES, and Differential Responding to Commodities
Monday, May 31, 2010
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Texas Ballroom Salon C (Grand Hyatt)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Research with the delay discounting task continues to produce clinically-relevant and socially important findings about self-control that will be reported in these presentations. These reports presented here aim to further the understanding of individuals who evidence clinically-relevant problems with impulse control and those with unusual occupations or lower socio-economic status. In addition, presentations will identify factors that affect response to the task, such as the commodity named as the object of choice. In delay discounting, subjects are asked to make choices between immediately available rewards and rewards available after a delay. The degree to which an individual selects small immediate rewards over larger, more delayed rewards provides a measure of the degree to which the individual discounts the value of delayed reward. This symposium will provide evidence about factors that affect response to the task as well as how adults with impulse control disorders, traits, and life circumstances not previously assessed with this task respond to it. The value and limits of the delay discounting task will be reviewed within the context of each presentation.
The Relationship Between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Status, Delay Discounting, and Additional Measures of Impulse Control
RUTH M. HURST (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), Hayden O. Kepley (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), Melissa Livermore (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)
Abstract: The delay discounting task could play a unique role in the assessment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adulthood and its use with that population warrants further examination. Recently, based on a sample of 239 young adults, we found that those who self-reported ADHD discounted more steeply on a delay discounting task than those who did not. Further, measures of delay discounting predicted ADHD status moderately well. The procedures used to obtain these findings and the actual results will be reviewed. Secondarily, 251 young adult college students were assessed using the delay discounting task as well as the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale – 11 (BIS-11). The BIS-11 has previously been reported to have low, insignificant correlations with the delay discounting task, and our finding supported these reports. However, upon further assessment, a domain of the BIS-11, attentional impulsivity, when combined with a measure of delay discounting (logk) was moderately successful in predicting ADHD status. The implications of these findings for future clinical research and practice will be discussed.
The Association Between Delay Discounting and a Measure of Autism Characteristics in Adults
Melissa Livermore (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), EMILY L. BAXTER (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), Ruth M. Hurst (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), Hayden O. Kepley (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)
Abstract: Impulsive behaviors are often cited when identifying autism characteristics. It is important to better understand the qualities of the impulsive behavior seen in individuals with autism. Thus, the relationship of autism traits to performance on a delay discounting task was examined. Initial findings for a sample of 415 college students suggested absolutely no relationship between autism traits and the degree to which an individual may discount the value of delayed rewards. However, additional analyses on this sample suggest that an autism communication measure interacts significantly with a measure of discounting (logk) to predict ADHD status. Together, these results suggest that while discounting the value of delayed rewards more steeply is not, in general, related to autism traits, this is not the case for those who self-report ADHD. For those in the ADHD group, as scores on an autism communication measure showed greater deficit, impulsivity as measured by the delay discounting task increased. Implications for theory, research, and practice will be discussed, and specific suggestions for future research projects will be provided.
Discounting Different Commodities: One Rate Fits Some but Not All
JEFFREY N. WEATHERLY (University of North Dakota), Heather K. Terrell (University of North Dakota), Adam Derenne (University of North Dakota)
Abstract: The full utility of delay discounting has yet to be realized, although links between discounting and certain behavioral disorders (e.g., problem gambling) have been documented. Research has also shown that different commodities may be discounted differently. The present study attempted to determine if there might be groups of commodities that people discount similarly and differently. A college sample of 648 respondents completed a fill-in-the-blank delay-discounting task in which they were asked what amount/percentage of a commodity they would accept immediately rather than waiting for x amount of time. The commodities included $1,000, $100,000, Federal legislation on education, finding a mate, medical treatment, cigarettes, losing weight, and/or retirement. Factor analyses indicated that discounting of monetary amounts grouped with some commodities (e.g., cigarettes) but was distinct from others (e.g., Federal legislation, medical treatment). These results suggest that when people discount different commodities to different degrees, they may do so because those commodities belong to different classes of reinforcers. These results thus have theoretical and practical implications for both researchers and practitioners.
Delay Discounting by Questionable Professions: Exotic Dancers, Homeless, and Illegal Migrants
MARK R. DIXON (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The present paper will describe a series of investigations into the choices made by individuals in our society with less than-typical employment and/or social class. Individuals were offered a series of choices between sooner smaller and larger later amounts of money at various delay periods. When matched by age, education, and other demographic factors, it was found that discounting occurred more frequently in the targeted populations than in control groups. Taken together these data suggest that various contextual factors can impact discounting and that "impulsivity" is not a trait, but rather a state. Such an analysis is more parsimonious within a science of behavior than the notion that discounting is a personality characteristic. Implications for understanding the various setting events and establishing operations that can alter delay discounting are presented. Discussion of results will be focused on factors that may affect choice by people from the assessed populations and the views of impulsivity as a state.



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