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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #410
CE Offered: BACB
Context Modulates Sensitivities to Sunk Time and Delay to Reinforcement
Monday, May 27, 2019
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Swissôtel, Concourse Level, Zurich A
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Nicole L. Bank (The PartnerShip, LLC)
Discussant: T. V. Joe Layng (Generategy, LLC)
CE Instructor: Nicole L. Bank, M.S.

The research on the effects of delay to reinforcement is robust. The literature base demonstrates the extent to which delays affect responding with standard reinforcers. These investigations try to understand the effects of delays in typical online contexts. Bank and Vaidya explore contexts where search engine users are sensitive to a delay to search results. Hantula explains why time spent in an online dating context leads to an increased selection of sub-optimal matches. Prompts for future research projects are provided.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Appropriate attendees for this presentation are behavior analysts with a basic understanding of quantitative models in choice responding and a general interest in how these models apply in typical online contexts.


Effects of Delay on Search Engine Choice

NICOLE L. BANK (University of North Texas; The PartnerShip, LLC), Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)

Current research and development of search engines relies on satisfaction surveys and group designs to identify key features. Such is the case when studying the effects of delay to search results. The literature studying the effects of delay to other commodities indicates the preference for the commodity decreases as the delay to the commodity increases. This study explored whether such an effect occurs in an online information search setting and if such an effect could be arranged in a choice scenario. In the context of a trivia game scenario participants were instructed to search quickly using one of two search engines. Participants were most sensitive to delays when the difference between the two search engine delays was greater than one second. As the difference between search engine delays decreased to a 0.5 second difference and a 0.25 second difference, performance approached indifference. These data suggest search engine results may be another context to study the effects of delay on choice.


The Waiting is the Hardest Part: Sunk Time Effects Online

DONALD A. HANTULA (Temple University)

Sunk costs are often assumed to motivate seemingly irrational choices (i.e. "throwing good money after bad"), but recent data reveal a more nuanced interpretation. This analysis is extended to an investigation of sunk time effects (situations in which time, not money, is invested) in online dating. Single young adults completed date profiles and searched for a potential date on an experimental dating site. Time between initiating a search and finding a matching date was systematically manipulated, and potential date "quality" ranged between 25%-75% compatibility. At low levels of compatibility, less than 50% of dates were accepted. However at 50% and 75% levels of compatibility, sunk cost had a strong linear effect on acceptance of a date, which was especially pronounced at the 75% level. These data show that sunk time effects, much like sunk cost effects, are not as general as assumed but are sensitive to context, and also that delay effects found in other studies of online consumer behavior extend to online dating choices.




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