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 #472
Behavioral Economics and Transportation Safety
Monday, May 27, 2019
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Swissôtel, Concourse Level, Zurich BC
Area: EAB/CSS; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Paul Romanowich (The University of Texas at San Antonio)
Discussant: Gregory J. Madden (Utah State University)
Abstract: Traffic safety is a socially relevant goal for every society. Traffic safety includes both vehicles, pedestrians and their interaction. All four presentations in this symposium have integrated behavior economic concepts with transportation safety to determine whether reliable relationships exist between an individual’s behavior and increasing (or decreasing) rates of traffic safety. The presentations include the effects of delay, social distance, fine amount and delay to destination on texting while driving behavior; the relationship between using smartphones while walking and delay and social discounting; and the role of delay discounting in errors during a driving simulation. The overarching goal of this symposium is to highlight how behavior economics can profitably be used to examine and promote traffic safety for current and future drivers and pedestrians. In addition, this research is intended to spur future researchers to seriously consider traffic safety as a viable collaborative research area in behavior analysis. Finally, future challenges for studying traffic safety with increasingly automated vehicles will be discussed.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Behavior Economics, Demand Analysis, Discounting, Texting

Social Distance and Texting While Driving: A Behavioral Economic Analysis of Social Discounting

ANNE M. FOREMAN (CDC/NIOSH), Yusuke Hayashi (Penn State Hazleton), Jonathan E. Friedel (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Oliver Wirth (CDC/NIOSH)

Texting while driving is a dangerous behavior, and drivers continue to engage in the behavior despite knowing its risks. The factors responsible for the decision to text while driving are poorly understood. This study examined how the relationship of the sender to the driver, in addition to the delay to the destination, may affect the decision to text while driving with the use of a social and delay discounting paradigm. Ninety-four (N = 94) undergraduate students completed a hypothetical social and delay discounting task in which they rated their likelihood of replying to a text message immediately versus waiting to reply until arriving at a destination. The social distance of the sender and the delay to the destination were manipulated across trials. For both social and delay discounting, the likelihood of replying and waiting, respectively, decreased as a function of social distance and delay to the destination. Social discounting varied inversely as a function of delay to the destination: The shorter delay to the destination, the greater social discounting. The findings indicate that social distance of the sender is an important factor involved in the decision to text while driving.


A Behavioral Economic Analysis of Demand for Texting While Driving

YUSUKE HAYASHI (Penn State Hazleton), Jonathan E. Friedel (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Anne M. Foreman (CDC/NIOSH), Oliver Wirth (CDC/NIOSH)

The overarching goal of the present study was to determine whether a behavioral economic framework of demand analysis is applicable to texting while driving. To this end, we developed a novel hypothetical task in which college students receive a text message while driving, and they rated the likelihood of replying to a text message immediately versus waiting to reply until arriving at a destination when the amounts of a fine for texting while driving ranged from $1 to $300. The scenario presented two delays to a destination (15 min and 60 min). For drivers who self-reported a higher frequency of texting while driving, the demand for social interaction from texting was significantly more intense and less elastic. Demand was also significantly more intense and less elastic under the 60-min delay condition. The results of this proof-of-concept study suggest that behavioral economic demand analyses are potentially useful for understanding and predicting texting while driving.


Using Smartphones While Walking is Associated With Delay but Not Social Discounting

TAKEHARU IGAKI (Ryutsu Keizai University), Paul Romanowich (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Naoki Yamagishi (Ryutsu Keizai University)

This study examined associations between two types of discounting (delay and social) and the frequency of using a smartphone while walking (USWW). Two-hundred thirty-nine college students self-reported USWW behaviors. Participants were divided into two groups based on their self-reported frequency of USWW per day; those who engaged in USWW either infrequently (USWW-Low), or frequently (USWW-High). Participants from both groups completed paper-and-pencil-based delay and social discounting tasks. For both types of discounting, hyperbolic functions provided a good fit of crossover points for both participant groups. Figure 1 shows that USWW-High participants discounted delayed rewards more steeply than USWW-Low participants, whereas there was no significant difference for social discounting between groups. The findings that USWW is positively associated with delay discounting but not social discounting indicate that one aspect of impulsivity, but not social discounting, is associated with USWW. Furthermore, correlational analyses between delay and social discounting showed that there was no association between the two discounting tasks, suggesting that delay and social discounting operate independently. Given the association between USWW and delay discounting, strategies to prevent distracted behavior using delay discounting as a factor are discussed.


The Effects of Delay Discounting on Driving Behavior During a Simulated Driving Task

PAUL ROMANOWICH (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Jorge Castillo (University of Texas at San Antonio), Gustavo Chavez (University of Texas at San Antonio), Qian Chen (University of Texas at San Antonio), Shouhuai Xu (University of Texas at San Antonio)

Delay discounting is associated with many important health behaviors. If delay discounting is viewed as a trans-disease process, then a drivers’ vehicle control should also be more impulsive, resulting in more errors. The current study measured 50 participants’ delay discounting for hypothetical monetary rewards, texting while driving (TWD), reaction times and number of errors during a simulated driving task. Participants completed 40 trials (20 practice; 20 test) in which they were instructed to either brake or change one or two lanes to an auditory/visual prompt. Participants were split into two groups based on the median k-value, creating high and low discounting groups. Figure 1a shows that as task difficulty increased (brake; one lane change; two lane change) reaction times for low discounting group participants were progressively shorter than high discounting group participants. In addition, the proportion of errors during the two lane change tests were significantly higher for high discounting participants, relative to low discounting participants (Figure 1b; Χ2 = 12.01; p < 0.001). There was no difference in self-reported TWD between the two groups. The results suggest delay discounting is associated with increased driving behavior errors during a simulation.




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