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.

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45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #545
Risky Business: An Experimental Analysis of Gambling
Monday, May 27, 2019
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Swissôtel, Concourse Level, Zurich BC
Area: EAB/EDC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Ryan C. Speelman (Pittsburg State University)
Abstract: Today gambling is a fairly ubiquitous legalized past time. Though many gamble without taking critical risks, numerous empirical questions remain as to why some develop an addiction while others do not. In addition, non-pathological gambling remains a socially relevant behavior of interest given the number of individuals who engage in this behavior. This symposium aims to identify game mechanisms, learning histories, and contextual influences that contribute to momentary impulsivity or pathological gambling. The first talk examines the influence of accurate rules on superstition and choice. Findings indicate educating recreational gamblers regarding true probabilities following initial play reduced superstitious beliefs and improved performance on choice outcomes. Our second study investigated the role of contextual influences on recreational and at risk gamblers finding that both populations made riskier bets and were less responsive to increased response costs (cover charge, chip price) when exposed to gambling cues. The last study experimentally evoked resurgence using compound schedules for both at risk and recreational populations. Results illustrate the role of resurgence and heightened potential for relapse for at risk populations. Together these studies systematically bring us closer to a comprehensive account of gambling behavior, as well as highlight relevant variables for treatment providers.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): economics, gambling, resurgence, superstition
 
Blackjack Player Choice, Superstition, and Calculated Odds of Winning
(Basic Research)
GRIFFIN D. WILLIAMS (Pittsburg State University), Ryan C. Speelman (Pittsburg State University)
Abstract: Superstitious beliefs often interfere with proper strategy and, at extremes, contribute to problem gambling. The current experiment analyzed choice behavior in the context of blackjack, the associated odds produced by these choices, and the influence of accurate rules (instructions) regarding gameplay and superstition. Results found that novice players deviate significantly from optimal strategy and the adjusted payout rates change as a function of this deviation. We found a typical player’s choice significantly increased predicted losses when compared to the odds and anticipated outcomes commonly advertised by the gaming industry. Following the initial self-reported strategy, participants viewed a video that addressed common misconceptions about gambling e.g., “It is good advice to stay in the same seat when I am winning,” the chance nature of gambling, as well as strategy and choice behavior that does affect odds. Following instruction, self-reported measures of superstition and illusion of control decreased while player choice and overall odds of winning improved. Educating individuals on effective use of strategy and expected outcomes may improve gameplay as well as reduce the role of superstition, inaccurate rules, and contextual variables that contribute to problem or pathological gambling.
 
A Behavioral Economic Analysis Towards Cue-Elicited Exposure on Gambling Cravings
(Basic Research)
VANSHIKA GUPTA (Saint Louis University), Tyler S Glassford (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: Current research on resurgence has yet to identify resurgence of gambling behaviors, which are maintained on compound schedules utilizing punishment and reinforcement. The purpose of the present study was to determine a method to evoke resurgence of gambling. Two groups of subjects, at-risk for gambling disorder and not at-risk, completed a simulated gambling activity in which they were staked with 1,000 credits. During the activity two response options were available; a gambling response which was associated with a 1 credit response cost, and a 1 in 8 chance of winning 10 or 3 credits, and an alternative response was associated with a 1 in 8 chance of earning 1 credit. Following a pre-training phase, participants were exposed to three phases. During the first phase, participants were reinforced for responding on the gambling response, while during phase two the alternative response was reinforced. The final phase placed both responses on extinction. Results of the study demonstrate that there is a significant difference in the magnitude of resurgence between groups. These findings suggest that the resurgence phenomenon is more pronounced initially for individuals at-risk for gambling disorder and may be more prone to relapse.
 
Exploring Resurgence of Gambling
(Basic Research)
TYLER S GLASSFORD (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: Current research on resurgence has yet to identify resurgence of gambling behaviors, which are maintained on compound schedules utilizing punishment and reinforcement. The purpose of the present study was to determine a method to evoke resurgence of gambling. Two groups of subjects, at-risk for gambling disorder and not at-risk, completed a simulated gambling activity in which they were staked with 1,000 credits. During the activity two response options were available; a gambling response which was associated with a 1 credit response cost, and a 1 in 8 chance of winning 10 or 3 credits, and an alternative response was associated with a 1 in 8 chance of earning 1 credit. Following a pre-training phase, participants were exposed to three phases. During the first phase, participants were reinforced for responding on the gambling response, while during phase two the alternative response was reinforced. The final phase placed both responses on extinction. Results of the study demonstrate that there is a significant difference in the magnitude of resurgence between groups. These findings suggest that the resurgence phenomenon is more pronounced initially for individuals at-risk for gambling disorder and may be more prone to relapse.
 

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