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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #403
Behavioral Economics and Consumer Behavior Analysis for Everyone: Understanding Distracted Driving, Fuel Purchasing, and Medication Adherence
Monday, May 28, 2018
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Rancho Santa Fe 1-3
Area: EAB/CSS; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jonathan E. Friedel (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Discussant: Amy Odum (Utah State University)

Behavioral economics and consumer behavior analysis are two related areas in which behavior analytic principles are used to explain a wide variety behaviors. These areas are important to the dissemination and wide acceptance of behavioral science because they focus on understanding behavior that the average person engages in. If we are constantly expanding the areas that behavior analysis touches on then it is easier to refute the misconception that "behavior analysis is just for problem behaviors." This symposium will focus on the application of behavioral economics and consumer behavior analysis to explain common, everyday sorts of behaviors. The talks that compose this symposium will focus on the relation between delay discounting and distracted driving, the factors that affect distracted driving in people who drive at work, the factors that affect purchasing fuel, and the factors that affect medication adherence.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): behavioral economics, consumer behavior

Texting While Driving as Impulsive Choice: A Behavioral Economic Approach

(Basic Research)
YUSUKE HAYASHI (Penn State Hazleton), Jonathan E. Friedel (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Anne M. Foreman (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Oliver Wirth (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The purpose of the present study was to examine an impulsive decision-making process underlying texting while driving from a behavioral economic perspective. A sample of 109 college students completed a survey to assess how frequently they send or read text messages while driving. Based on this information, participants were grouped by those who frequently text while driving and those who infrequently text while driving. In a novel discounting task that involved a hypothetical scenario in which participants receive a text message while driving, participants rated the likelihood of replying to a text message immediately versus waiting to reply until arriving at a destination. The scenario presented several delays to a destination and probabilities of a motor vehicle crash. Results show that (a) the likelihood of waiting to reply to a text message decreased as a function of both the delay until the destination and the probability of a motor vehicle crash, and (b) drivers who self-reported a higher frequency of texting while driving showed greater rates of both delay and probability discounting. These results support the conclusion that texting while driving is fundamentally an impulsive choice and suggest the utility of a behavioral economic approach in understanding such a choice.


A Discrete Choice Experiment of Factors That Influence Texting While Driving

(Basic Research)
ANNE M. FOREMAN (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Jonathan E. Friedel (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Oliver Wirth (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Yusuke Hayashi (Penn State Hazleton)

Texting while driving is a behavior of increasing interest in occupational safety and health. Individuals who 1) drive as part of their job (n = 161) and 2) do not (n = 151) were recruited from Mechanical Turk to complete a study on decision making related to texting while driving. Respondents completed a discrete choice experiment as well as several questionnaires, including the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and an 8-item delay discounting questionnaire. In the discrete choice experiment, respondents were presented with sets of choice trials each consisting of two driving scenarios and asked under which scenario they would be more likely to read a text message while driving. Results revealed that relationship to the sender, the type of road condition, and the perceived importance of the message significantly affected decisions to text while driving. Additional findings from comparisons between those who do and do not drive for work and those who do and do not text and drive will be discussed (e.g., respondents who text while driving had significantly higher scores on the Impulsiveness Scale compared to those who do not [Z = -5.31, p < .05]). Advantages and drawbacks to the discrete choice experiment approach in decision making research will be outlined.


Left-Digit Pricing Effects on Fuel Demand: Implications for Empirical Public Policy

(Basic Research)
Brett Gelino (University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (The University of Kansas), ALLYSON RAE SALZER (University of Kansas), Steven R. Hursh (Institutes for Behavior Resources, Inc.)

The "left-digit effect" is the phenomenon wherein a commodity's leftmost digit subjectively alters consumer motivation more than its absolute pricing. For example, a product priced as $4.99 is considered more appealing than the same product priced at $5.00, while no subjective differences in preference would be observed in products priced as $5.01 and $5.02, despite the same absolute difference in cost (i.e., one cent). Marketing and psychology researchers attribute this effect to differences in perceived price distances, with the left-digit change producing an irrational perception of a more pronounced distance. A recent call to action by behavioral economists has included the left-digit effect as a notable area of inquiry using operant demand analysis, given the utility of purchase tasks and demand modelling to evaluate changes in local elasticity at left-digit pricing manipulations. Indeed, operant behavioral economists have identified left-digit effects in cigarette purchase task research, but large-scale directed research on using an everyday product and general population remains scant. We describe a large crowd-sourced investigation of the left-digit effect using a socially important commodity: fuel. Results suggest adequate data quality in terms of systematic demand patterns, as well as pronounced left-digit effects on local elasticity. Such data contribute to the growing literature on the utility of purchase tasks to inform public policy, while also providing a novel contribution to the left-digit effect.


Modeling Medication Choice in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

(Basic Research)
DAVID P. JARMOLOWICZ (The University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (The University of Kansas), Jared M. Bruce (University of Missouri-Kansas City)

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease wherein the myelin sheaths which insulate neurons are progressively degraded, causing a wide range of symptoms. Multiple sclerosis is terminal, yet disease modifying therapies (DMTs) that show the disease progression and improve quality of life are readily available. Unfortunately, patients often either fail to initiate or fail to continue taking DMTs. Qualitative research suggests that this poor adherence is due, in part, to concerns with DMT side effects (costs) and with DMT efficacy (benefits). The present study parametrically manipulated the likelihood of side effects (cost) and efficacy (benefits) to explore patients DMT choices. Behavioral economic models of the interactive effects of DMT costs and benefits are constructed to quantify these choice patterns.




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