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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #384
The Behavioral Economics of Sleep: Novel Ways of Understanding Sleep Using Commodity Purchase Tasks
Monday, May 27, 2024
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 201 AB
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Emily Varon (Ready Set Sleep, LLC)
Abstract: Sleep is crucial for both physiological and behavioral health, and it can be affected by many factors. Despite quality rest being a priority for more than half of Americans, many individuals have lifestyles that do not promote healthy sleep patterns. Behavioral economics can examine ecologically informed preferences for a given commodity, such as sleep. This symposium summarizes three translational studies that leverage behavioral economics methods to understand sleep in various populations. Three studies assessed how cannabis cues and a sleep context can alter the demand for cannabis among cannabis users, how demand for sleep varies among college students, and how demand for sleep can change in relation to wages among working adults. The results from these studies demonstrate that (1) commodity purchase tasks can be an effective method for studying sleep-related behaviors, and (2) sleep may function as a motivating operation by increasing the value of other commodities. Applied and theoretical implications are discussed at the end of each talk.
Instruction Level: Intermediate

The Effect of Cannabis Cues on Cannabis Demand in a Sleep Context: Results From a Study of Adults Who Use Cannabis

(Basic Research)
BRANDON PATRICK MILLER (University of Kansas), Elizabeth Aston (Brown University), Michael Amlung (University of Kansas)

Cannabis is widely marketed and colloquially claimed to be a sleep aid despite minimal evidence to back these claims. The marijuana purchase task (MPT) is one way to elucidate the association between sleep and cannabis use. Participants (n = 79; 78% white; 48% identified as women; 48% identified as men; and 4% identified as non-binary) with a mean age of 24.11 completed a single laboratory session consisting of four hypothetical marijuana purchase tasks (MPTs) involving either a typical use situation or a driving or sleep context. The MPTs were alternated with exposure to cannabis or neutral picture cues based on block randomization by gender. The sleep context was associated with significantly greater α (p < .006) but non-significant effects for other indices (p range = .123-.707). Finally, cannabis cues increased Omax (p = .013) and breakpoint (p = .035) in the sleep context but not in the typical use context. These results suggest that while a sleep context does not have an overall effect on cannabis demand, being in the presence of cannabis cues may reverse this effect.

The Behavioral Economics of Sleep: Assessing the Value of Sleep in Undergraduate Students
(Basic Research)
KAYLA RINNA (Eastern Michigan University), Thomas J. Waltz (Eastern Michigan University), Claudia Drossel (Eastern Michigan University)
Abstract: Hypothetical purchase tasks can be used to assess how individuals value different commodities. Sleep is a commonly undervalued commodity: Many adults do not get sufficient sleep. Sleep interventions recommend against daytime napping, to maximize stimulus control. The current study extends previous studies using hypothetical purchasing tasks for quantifying the value of sleep among undergraduate students. Undergraduates (n = 243) completed two hypothetical purchase tasks for sleep, which were systematically varied to assess within-person effects when the time to consume sleep was within that same night or within 24 hours (allowing daytime naps). Validity checks and data-cleaning algorithms were used to ensure data integrity. Over half of the participants (63%, n = 153) produced systematic purchasing patterns. Undergraduate students purchased about 10 hours of sleep a night when sleep was free, and purchasing patterns were similar across constraints. Self-report data regarding work schedules, preferences, and sleep disturbances will be characterized in relation to sleep demand indices. Hypothetical purchase tasks have the potential to enhance a behavioral economics approach to sleep and identify new points of intervention.
Assessing Demand for Sleep
(Basic Research)
STEVEN R HURSH (Institutes for Behavior Resources, Inc.)
Abstract: From the perspective of behavioral economics, sleep can be defined as a commodity that is responsive to economic constraints. Sleep, like other commodities, has utility that can have positive effects on income; however, there is an inverse relationship between sleep duration and earnings. How an individual chooses to spend their hours (sleep or wake) is an economic decision and choosing to sleep instead of working extra hours represents an opportunity cost of sleep. For example, higher wages result in lower sleep durations because sleep-time becomes an expense—people tend to substitute working time for sleeping time. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 1. On the other hand, sleep has intrinsic value that can offset opportunity cost because sleep has the potential to increase work productivity and cognitive performance. The division of time between work and sleep is a trade-off of consequences and behavioral economics provides a way to assess these tradeoffs. This presentation will describe those methods and offer data that illustrates how demand for sleep can be assessed in relation to wage rates for additional work and less sleep, on the one hand, and protecting some minimal sleep time to ensure adequate work performance, on the other hand.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh