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 #431
Advances of the Operant Paradigm in the Field of Behavioral Economics
Monday, May 28, 2018
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Marina Ballroom F
Area: OBM/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Gordon R. Foxall (Cardiff University)

Operant Behavioral economics (OBE), also known as Economic Behavior Analysis (EBA), is an interdisciplinary field in which behavior analysts and economists interact to improve our understanding of economically-relevant behaviors. These are the social behaviors identified by economic theories as determinants of the way human societies are organized: like consuming, working, investing, etc. The intersection between behavior analysis and economics contributes positively to the objectives of both disciplines by bringing theoretical perspectives and novel methodologies to bear on each of its constituents. A number of analytical tools brought from Microeconomics has already made its way to the psychological arena. Concepts like demand elasticity, discounting curves, substitute and complement goods, among others, have had their validity and usefulness proven in behavioral researches on substance abuse, compulsive behaviors, obesity etc. But any interdisciplinary dialogue should be two-way. This symposium will examine the recent progress of the operant paradigm within the behavioral economic field in various countries and research domains.

Instruction Level: Advanced

Temporal Discounting in Consumer and Legal Settings

(Applied Research)
JORGE OLIVEIRA-CASTRO (University of Brasilia, Brazil), Rogerio Pinheiro (University of Brasilia, Brazil), Rafaela Marques (University of Brasilia, Brazil), Ana Silva (University of Brasilia, Brazil)

Four studies were conducted to illustrate how the framework of temporal discounting (decrease in reinforcing value with increasing delay) can be used to interpret and predict behavioral patterns in diverse fields, such as consumer and legal contexts. Study 1: product stockpiling in routinely-purchased food products was investigated, with the use of consumer panel data, showing that the value of products was hyperbolically discounted as delay to consumption increased. Study 2: in a simulated shopping task, the value of brands with higher level of informational reinforcement was hyperbolically discounted more than the value of brands with lower level of informational reinforcement. Study 3: in a simulated task, the accepted value of damage compensation was hyperbolically discounted as a function of the time since the damage occurred. Study 4: using data from court hearings, the values of proposals, agreements and convictions were systematically discounted from the original value given to the cause.


CANCELED: Effect of the Induction of Emotional States on the Alcohol Reinforcer Value:A Behavioral Economic Approach

(Applied Research)
PAULO SERGIO DILLON SOARES FILHO (University of San Buenaventura, Colombia), Jessica Nino (University of San Buenaventura, Colombia), Lizeth Munoz (University of San Buenaventura, Colombia), Laura Castelbranco (University of San Buenaventura, Colombia)

Studies have shown that environmental cues change Relative Reinforcer Efficacy/Value (RRE) of drugs as measured by a behavioral economic demand analysis. However, it is not clear how cues emotional content is related with the RRE. This study evaluated the effect of the induction of emotional states on alcohol RRE using the assessments of the demand curve. 120 students, who reported regular alcohol consumption, were randomly assigned in three groups (Neutral, Pleasant and Unpleasant). Participants were exposed to a set of images from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS) followed by an Alcohol Purchase Task (APT). Participants exposed to Pleasant and Unpleasant cues presented significantly higher demand measures for alcohol (Pmax and Breakpoint) than participants exposed to Neutral, also the effect emotional cues was higher for women. The results suggest that the emotional content of the cues and its interaction with the sex play an important role in alcohol RRE.


Can Behavioral Analysis Contribute to Public Policy Planning?

(Applied Research)

The recently announced Nobel Prize awarded to behavioral economist Richard Thaler has put behaviorally-oriented social policies at the center of the economic arena. Government officials, economists and the general public are increasingly asking how behavioral findings they can be applied to produce better, cost-effective social interventions. In parallel, there has been a constant growth in behavioral-analytic studies on topics like sustainable consumption, environmental policies, or social changes. Can we envision a conversion between the two tendencies? Albeit desirable, such merging seems unlikely in the near future we are willing to change a couple of cultural practices within the BA community. One is the development of a verbal repertoire more appropriate to communicate behavioral findings to policy planners and the public in general (a highly successful strategy in Thaler's books). Another is adoption of more socially-relevant topics for behavioral research. There are very few BA studies nowadays that directly address the problems that policy-planners face. In an attempt to advance an interdisciplinary agenda, this talk will discuss the inquiries policy-planners commonly have for behavioral scientists, and offer an overview of what is available today to address them. Most examples will come from cases that happened in the U.S.A. and Brazil.




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