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 #263
CE Offered: BACB
Experimental Analysis of Gambling
Sunday, May 27, 2018
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Rancho Santa Fe 1-3
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Tyler S Glassford (Saint Louis University)
CE Instructor: Tyler S. Glassford, Other

Behavior analytic research to date has revealed that gambling behavior is influenced by a variety of environmental variables, such as verbal behavior and the contingencies of reinforcement associated with the games themselves. For instance, while slot machines operate on a random ratio reinforcement schedule, structural variables (e.g., outcomes such as near misses or losses disguised as wins) have been shown to influence how people gamble. While emerging research on environmental variables continues, more information is needed in regards to functional relationships between environmental variables, verbal behaviors, and gambling. Therefore, the current symposium will highlight environmental aspects that control gambling. The first paper will discuss the effect of rules on blackjack. Four participants were exposed to two rule conditions to determine how rules may impact the degree to which gamblers 'let it ride' or place larger bets upon winning a hand. The second paper will discuss a new methodology useful in assessing the maintaining variables of gambling (e.g., access to social attention, escape from gambling termination, bonus points and rewards, and sensory stimulation). Finally, the third paper will discuss the effects of losses disguised as wins on preference for slot machines. Future directions for research and clinical practice will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Functional Assessment, Gambling, Rule-governed behavior
Target Audience:

The target audience for the present symposium will be BCBA's, BCaBAs, and psychologists.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Identify environmental variables that influence gambling behaviors (2) Label verbal behavior mechanisms that mediate gambling responses (3) Identify reinforcement schedules and illusion of reinforcement schedules in gambling contexts (i.e., losses disguised as wins)

Let it Ride: Effect of Rules on Risky Bets

TYLER S. GLASSFORD (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University)

Gambling is a popular activity in the United States. Past research on gambling behavior has focused on rule following. The purpose of the present study was to (a) replicate the findings of Dixon (2000) and (b) extend the findings to risky choice making. Four participants, two male, were exposed to an electronic blackjack game and different rules throughout the study in a multiple baseline design. Participants were first exposed to a faulty rule followed by a correct rule in a multiple baseline design. Each participant first played without rules during baseline. Following baseline the experimenter told the participants a faulty rule, that let it ride bets increased the odds of winning. Following a period of play under the faulty rule, participants were informed that the let it ride bets did not increase odds of winning, and were in fact riskier wagers. All participants significantly increased risky betting during the faulty rules condition, and three participants decreased risky betting following the presentation of the correct rule. The present study replicated past findings by demonstrating that rule following can be weakened rather than eliminated through contact with contradictory rules.


Exploring Functional Relations of Gambling

KRISTEN CHUVALA (Saint Louis University), Tyler S. Glassford (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University), Emily Dzugan (Saint Louis University ), Shelby Bates (Saint Louis University)

Functional assessments are useful in informing treatment, but can often be time consuming. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop and test a rapid functional assessment for gambling behavior. To assess the effect of different consequences on gambling behavior a multielement design with a withdrawal component was used. A concurrent random ratio and fixed interval 30s schedule was used to deliver reinforcement on four five-reel casino replica slot machines. The tangible machine provided points toward earning a preferred item. The attention machine produced conversation from an experimenter, while the escape machine provided additional play time. The sensory machine simulated a slot machine typically found in a casino environment. Five recreational gamblers were exposed to a forced choice prior to a ten-minute free play phase. Experimenters then restricted participants from the most played machine for two minutes before allowing access to all machines again. Results for four of five participants indicated two preferred machines of varying strength. Results for the fifth participant were undifferentiated. The results suggest that this functional assessment can quickly identify potential functions of gambling behavior, which would allow therapists to design and begin effective treatment more quickly.


Losses Disguised as "Wins" and Slot Machine Preferences

RYAN C. SPEELMAN (Pittsburg State University), Kyle E. Rowsey (University of Southern Mississippi), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Karl Gunnarsson (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)

"Losses Disguised as Wins (LDWs)" are slot machine outcomes in which the payout of a given spin is a fraction of the original bet. These losses are "disguised" when paired with visual and auditory stimuli associated with a win. The current research investigated the influence of LDWs on preference amongst game options as well as preferences between concurrently available slots. Naturalistic observation of multiline slot play revealed gamblers overwhelmingly preferred 20 lines, given the option between 20, 10, 5, and 1 line. An analysis of each of the 4 game options revealed LDWs parametrically increased as additional lines were played, despite no observed economic advantage. These data suggest LDWs may in part influence choice allocation amongst varying number of lines. This phenomenon was replicated in a laboratory setting where participants chose amongst concurrently available computerized slot machines where payout magnitudes were manipulated and systematically decreased for slots offering LDWs. Again players showed preference for slots with this game mechanism regardless of actual payouts suggesting gamblers attend to lights and sounds in some cases more than wins and losses. These findings have clear implications for treatment providers seeking to understand addictive mechanisms and slot machine preferences.




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