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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #346
CE Offered: BACB
Mutli-SIG Symposium: Toward a Cohesive Understanding of Gambling
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
006D (CC)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Benjamin N. Witts (St. Cloud State University)
CE Instructor: Benjamin N. Witts, Ph.D.

Opportunities to gamble are increasing at very high rates. National and international casinos are developing faster than we have ever seen before. New laws in the U.S. are opening doors for online casinos and states have already adopted online lotteries. While the future of the gaming industry is clear, how behavior analysts will be involved is a bit murkier. A cohesive understanding of gambling, in its many forms, permits we behaviorists to be better prepared to address societal concerns regarding problem gambling as well as to permit students alternative routes to study behavior change. This Multi-SIG symposium combines talks on ethical, clinical, and experimental analysis concerns regarding the future of gambling research and treatment. An emphasis is placed on how multiple areas of interest come together to support these endeavors while striving to make an impact on the gaming industry and its resultant behavioral effects.

Keyword(s): Clinical, Ethics, Experimental Analysis, Gambling

Disordered Gambling Hierarchies

DARREN R CHRISTENSEN (University of Lethbridge), Alun Jackson (University of Melbourne), Nicki Dowling (Deakin University), Shane Thomas (Monash University), Robert Williams (University of Lethbridge)

Gambling criteria endorsement was investigated in two large archival gambling datasets. Dataset one contained responses from 4,349 clients attending specialist problem gambling services in Victoria Australia from 1997 to 2002. Dataset two contained responses from 12,521 people from 105 countries who responded to an on-line gambling survey advertised on a popular gambling website from June to December 2007. The exact same principal component clustering of criteria was found in both datasets using; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV Pathological Gambling Disorder criteria categorised using the National Opinion Research Centre Diagnostic Screen (NODS) for gambling problems taxonomy (dataset one), or the same number of the actual NODS criteria (dataset two). Further, both datasets reported similar hierarchical clustering of criteria (see Figure 1). These results suggest that the gambling experience categorised by the NODS taxonomy is multi-dimensional, and these experiences approximate the phenomenology of substance use disorders. Specifically, the gambling experience has three phases; initial use and development of a problem (Escape, Chasing, and Lying), problematic behaviour (Loss of Control, Preoccupation, Withdrawal, and Tolerance), and the experience of negative consequences for others (Bailout, Risked Relationships, and Illegal Acts). These results have important implications for disordered gambling assessment and treatment.

Understanding Gambling in Humans: The Role of the Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior
BENJAMIN N. WITTS (St. Cloud State University), Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)
Abstract: The experimental analysis of human behavior is an essential element in coming to a cohesive understanding of gambling, and can work to extend and refine basic research with humans by setting the occasion for pursuing alternative approaches given methodological concerns. This talk will focus on how the experimental analysis of human behavior has led to new methodological preparations, what preparations will be of use in our understanding of human gambling, and how basic research can inform practice and vice versa. While much work in human gambling has centered on slot machine research, additional considerations will be given to how the experimental analysis of human behavior can inform research on complex human behavior such as social gaming (e.g., poker) and games of skill. Finally, an effort will be made to help new researchers design and implement important studies with little effort and cost, and how gambling research can be incorporated into master’s- and doctoral-level experimental analysis coursework.
Ethics and gambling research
Mack S. Costello (Western Michigan University), R. WAYNE FUQUA (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Research into gambling behavior has increased over the past several years. Given high rates of gambling and the growing population of disordered gamblers, there is a need to develop research methods with improved validity. Gambling itself involves inherent risk, and a valid simulation of gambling would also have to involve said risk. The ethical issues involved in experimentally studying gambling behavior are numerous, with legal and methodological considerations, risk of exposing participants to gambling, as well as validity concerns. These issues will be discussed from a behavior analytic and ethical perspective. More specifically, gambling itself will be discussed as an ethical issue, and its impact on individuals and groups will be examined. The authors’ current understanding of gambling research will be discussed, especially in relation to a behavior analytic conception of ethics. The ethics of human and non-human models will be discussed, in addition to ethical concerns with respect to methods of observational, experimental, and treatment studies.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh