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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #157
CE Offered: BACB
Assessment, Treatment and Validation of Pathological Gambling: BIG-SIG Symposium 2
Sunday, May 25, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Maranda Trahan (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)
CE Instructor: Mark R. Dixon, Ph.D.

Although there have been a variety of studies discussing pathological gambling, many questions still remain as to the assessment, treatment and validation of pathological gambling. The purpose of this symposium will be to examine various improvements to work on pathological gambling. Four empirical studies will be presented in which different dimensions of pathological gambling were examined. The first presentation will be a discussion on the Gambling Functional Assessment (GAF). The second presentation will review a behavioral therapy treatment package to decrease pathological gambling. The third presentation will explore novel dependent measures in pathological gambling and possible future of gambling studies. The final presentation will discuss the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and its effects on pathological gambling.

Factor Analyzing the Gambling Functional Assessment Survey.
JEFFREY N. WEATHERLY (University of North Dakota), Joseph Miller (University of North Dakota), Ellen Meier (University of North Dakota), Adam Derenne (University of North Dakota)
Abstract: Dixon and Johnson (2007) introduced the Gambling Functional Assessment (GFA) as a paper-and-pencil device to identify the consequences that maintain gambling behavior. Their device had four potential consequences, attention, sensory experience, tangible gain, and escape. We had a college sample of 900 students take the GFA. Their responses were subjected to a factor analysis, which identified three rather than four factors. Specifically, items that were designed to identify the consequences of sensory experience and tangible gain group together. Two questions pertaining to the consequence of attention grouped together, as did all the questions pertaining to escape. A subsample of the original took the GFA a second time 12 weeks after the original administration. Test-retest reliability of the GFA was good. These results indicate a slightly modified GFA has utility as a functional assessment device.
Using Behavior Therapy to Treat Pathological Gamblers with Acquired Brain Injury.
JOHN M. GUERCIO (Center for Comprehensive Services, Inc.), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The present study explored the use of an 8-week behavioral therapy treatment package designed for persons with pathological gambling to reduce their gambling behavior. In the present study three individuals with acquired brain injury were exposed to a multiple baseline design where the intervention was 8 weeks of individual-based therapy for treatment of gambling. In addition to the typical self-report data that are usually collected in treatment outcome studies, we included the observation of actual gambling behavior that was allowed to take place immediately following each therapy session. Results suggest that when compared to baseline, gambling self-reports and observed behavior decreased upon introduction of the treatment package. Our results also maintained during follow up probes. In conclusion behavioral treatments for non-brain-injured individuals with gambling disorders have potential for persons suffering from such a disability, and appear externally valid when assessing actual gambling behavior in the natural environment.
The Next Paradigm of Gambling Behavior Research.
MARK R. DIXON (Southern Illinois University), Maranda Trahan (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)
Abstract: Over the past 10 years, behavior analysts have begun to gather a fair amount of research on gambling behavior. Basic laboratory explorations have utilized human and nonhuman subjects, and clinical interventions have been attempted with promising results. To date the behavioral contributions have only scratched the surface of the phenomena of gambling, and why an individual with no history of gambling problems can become a pathological gambler. This presentation will explore the utilization of novel dependent measures as well as discuss the introduction of neglected independent variable manipulations. A possible research agenda for the behavior analyst interested in studying gambling behavior over the next decade will be presented. Emerging data that emulate this new paradigm will be used as examples of the possibilities this paradigm has to offer.
Recent Neuroscience Research and its Possible Implications for Behavior Analysts Interested in Gambling Behavior.
BRADY J. PHELPS (South Dakota State University)
Abstract: The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and some of its agonists have been implicated in the development of compulsive gambling, such that the Food and Drug Administration is making warnings about heightened risks of compulsive gambling mandatory in advertisements for some DA agonist prescription medications. Dopamine is argued as being a key mechanism in the our brain and behavior’s sensitivity to reinforcement contingencies; furthermore, DA mechanisms in the brain show particularly potent responses to unpredictable reinforcement contingencies. Relevant literature regarding DA, reinforcement mechanisms and gambling will be discussed.



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