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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #206
Rock, Paper, Scissors: Stability, Perseveration and Variability in Human Operant Choice
Sunday, May 27, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
607 (Convention Center)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Elizabeth Kyonka (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Brian D. Kangas (Harvard Medical School)
Abstract: Early and contemporary experimental research exploring the generalized matching law has involved nonhuman subjects allocating time or responses between two alternatives. Although higher tolerance for attrition and uncontrolled variables is necessary in research with humans, expanding the body of human-operant choice research is desirable for many pragmatic and intellectual reasons. Similarly, although choice procedures involving three or more alternatives pose difficulties not present in binary choice research, results may elucidate phenomena not observable in two-alternative procedures. Each presentation in this symposium features human operant choice experiments in which subjects selected from among three or more alternatives. To distinguish discriminative and reinforcing aspects of “near wins” in a simulated gambling task, Hely and colleagues combined stimulus control and generalized matching analyses. Tan, Holtyn and Kyonka examined dynamics of response variability and sensitivity to probability using a rock, paper, scissors game. Kyonka and Tan compared different formalizations of generalized matching extended to more than two alternatives using residual analysis of previously published rock, paper, scissors data. This symposium will explore the challenges and opportunities inherent in translating nonhuman research to the human operant laboratory and in expanding the quantitative and empirical binary of generalized matching.
Keyword(s): gambling, generalized matching, human-operant choice, rock/paper/scissors

Close but Some Cigar: Near Wins as Novel Reinforcers in a Simulated Gambling Task

LINCOLN S. HELY (Victoria University of Wellington), Tadhg Daly (Victoria University of Wellington), Gordon Tan (Victoria University of Wellington), Stephan Dalrymple-Alford (Victoria University of Wellington), Maree J. Hunt (Victoria University of Wellington), David N. Harper (Victoria University of Wellington)

Investigating slot machine gambling from a behavioural perspective offers a unique insight into problems involving pathological gambling. We add to a growing body of research with a set of experiments that examined the possible reinforcing qualities of a near win (i.e. four out of five winning symbols on a machine) and its effects on subsequent responding. Previous research (e.g. Dixon & Schreiber, 2004) suggests that near wins may act similar to reinforcers despite remaining functionally a loss trial. The simulated gambling procedure consisted of two concurrent slot machine reels consisting of five symbols each. Winning trials (all five symbols) across reels were arranged according to the following ratios: 2:10, 4:10, 10:4 and 10:2. The effects of near win trials were examined as a function of presence vs. absence (study 1) or the relative percentage of near win trials (study 2). Analysis using the generalised matching law and examination of post-reinforcement pauses confirmed the near win as possessing reinforcing qualities distinct from those of wins.


Choice Behaviour in Dynamic Environments: Response Variability and Sensitivity in a Rock Paper Scissors Game

LAVINIA C. M. TAN (Reed College), August F. Holtyn (West Virginia University), Elizabeth Kyonka (West Virginia University)

Dynamic choice behaviour of 15 human participants was examined in a Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) game. The RPS game provides a valid procedure for investigating choice amongst multiple alternatives, and potential for applications of game and foraging theory in behavioural research. In the current study, participants played against a computer opponent; on a single trial, either the participant or the computer could earn points by beating the other in a round of RPS. Sessions lasted for 360 trials. Reinforcement probabilities varied across sessions; there were three conditions in which the ratios of the probabilities of the computer playing Rock, Paper or Scissors varied across blocks of 6, 12 or 36 trials within a session. A total of nine different reinforcement ratios were used: 5-10-85, 20-50-30, 10-20-70, 33-33-33, with locations counterbalanced. Response variability and sensitivity were examined; models of choice behavior to three discrete options were fitted to the data, and changes in responding over time were analysed as a function of reinforcement variability.


The Power of 3-Alternative Choice Procedures as Severe Tests for Extensions of Generalized Matching

ELIZABETH KYONKA (West Virginia University), Lavinia C. M. Tan (Reed College)

Over the past decade, behavior-analytic research has yielded several extensions to the generalized matching law. These extensions typically increase variance accounted for relative to the already-high variance accounted for by generalized matching. When goodness of fit is similar across candidates, residual analyses for systematic trends provide an alternate means of distinguishing between models. Natapoff relations (Schneider & Davison, 2005) were computed in a reanalysis of Kangas and colleagues (2009) Concurrent performance in a three-alternative choice situation: Response allocation in a Rock/Paper/Scissors game. Kangas reported results of generalized matching analyses for ratios of responding and reinforcement for a target option versus both other options, for example, rock/(paper+scissors). Goodness of fit was adequate for both ratios and Natapoff relations. However, residual analyses revealed polynomial trends were sometimes present for ratios but not for Natapoff relations, identifying Natapoff relations as a quantitatively superior account of choice between the three alternatives rock, paper and scissors. Residual analyses of 3-alternative choice may continue to be a fruitful means of comparing extensions of generalized matching.




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