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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #278
Characterizing Reinforcer Pathologies Using Behavioral Economic Demand
Sunday, May 28, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom H
Area: BPN/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Meredith Steele Berry (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Discussant: Gregory J. Madden (Utah State University)

Behavioral economic demand is considered an increasingly important framework for abuse liability assessment, and is used to characterize reinforcer consumption as a function of price. In this symposium, speakers will present recent experimental findings that examine demand for licit and illicit drugs, as well as indoor tanning. Meredith Berry will present demand data (and relations to clinically relevant variables) from a novel drug purchasing task administered across three separate double-blind drug administration studies: cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol. Amel Becirevic will present recent findings suggesting that exposure to tanning-related cues and paraphernalia significantly increase markers of craving and behavioral economic demand for tanning. Matthew Johnson will present demand data showing that e-cigarettes may serve as a substitute for tobacco cigarettes, and may be a superior substitute for smoking compared to nicotine gum. Jeffrey Stein will present behavioral economic demand data comparing ventilated versus unventilated cigarettes, showing that when both types of cigarettes are available at equivalent unit prices, clear preference for ventilated cigarettes emerges. As discussant, Gregory Madden will integrate these presentations. Data presented in this symposium suggest that behavioral economic demand offers a multi-dimensional assessment of reinforcement, providing insights into aspects of abuse liability and reinforcer pathologies.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): abuse liability, behavioral pharmacology, behavioral-economic demand, reinforcer pathologies
Behavioral Economic Demand for Drugs of Abuse: Insights From the Novel Double-Blind Purchasing Task (DBPT)
MEREDITH STEELE BERRY (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Matthew W. Johnson (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Behavioral economic demand offers a multi-dimensional evaluation of drug reinforcement and abuse liability. Generating demand curves with self-administration is time consuming and costly. Human researchers sometimes use hypothetical drug purchasing tasks as quick and cost-efficient alternatives. Purchasing tasks ask the participant to self-report how many units of a described drug he/she would purchase at each price, across a range of prices. Two limitations of typical purchasing tasks are: 1) that choices are made based on non-experimental drug history, and 2) inability to control for expectancy (placebo effect). We developed the Double-Blind Purchasing Task (DBPT), a hybrid task in which we administered drugs and placebos in separate double-blind sessions. Participants then made hypothetical purchase decisions at the conclusion of each session in reference to the drug/placebo administered. We administered this task across three separate studies examining either cocaine, methamphetamine, or alcohol. Drug purchasing decreased as an orderly function of price. Drug was purchased more than placebo. Elasticity of the demand curve was negatively correlated with clinically relevant variables: money spent on drug in the past week, and days of use in the past month. The DBPT can serve as an efficient method for determining drug demand under pharmacologically rigorous, placebo-controlled conditions.

Shedding Light on Tanning Disorder: A Behavioral Economic Analysis of Cue-Evoked Demand

AMEL BECIREVIC (University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (The University of Kansas), Michael Amlung (McMaster University), Madison R. McNinch (University of Kansas)

Excessive indoor tanning is a behavioral excess mimicking behavioral addiction characteristics associated with other addiction-related disorders such as drug use and gambling. Dense literature in the addiction sciences suggests that cue-reactivity is a behavioral marker of conditioned cravings and behavioral economic demand for substances of abuse. Unlike other commodities of abuse, there are very few regulations on the prevalence of tanning-related advertisements and cues in public settings. Our study examined the extent to which indoor tanners exhibited cue-reactivity in a study translated from those using cigarette and alcohol cue-reactivity preparations. Findings suggest that tanning-related cues and paraphernalia significantly increased markers of craving and behavior economic demand for tanning using a within-subject comparison in 23 college-aged indoor tanners. These tanning cue-reactivity findings provide novel insights into the role of tanning-related messages and visual cues in tanning disorders; such findings also contribute to a growing empirical body of support for tanning as a behavioral addiction. Notably, these cue-reactivity findings suggest that tanning disorder may be a function of both trait and state influences.


Behavioral Economic Substitutability of e-Cigarettes, Tobacco Cigarettes, and Nicotine Gum

MATTHEW W. JOHNSON (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Patrick S. Johnson (California State University, Chico), Lauren Pacek (Duke University Medical Center)

Public health impact of e-cigarettes may depend on their substitutability for tobacco cigarettes. Dual users of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes (N=400) completed purchasing tasks in which they specified daily use levels under various hypothetical conditions that varied the availability and price of e-cigarettes, tobacco cigarettes, and nicotine gum (for those with nicotine gum experience). When either e-cigarettes or tobacco puffs were the only available commodity, as puff price increased, purchasing of the commodity decreased, revealing similar reinforcement profiles. When available concurrently, as the price of tobacco puffs increased, purchasing of tobacco puffs decreased, and purchasing of fixed-price e-cigarette puffs increased, indicating that e-cigarettes met one definition of behavioral economic substitution. Concurrent availability of e-cigarette puffs decreased purchasing of tobacco puffs across all unit prices of tobacco puffs, showing that e-cigarettes satisfied another definition of behavioral economic substitutability. Moreover, e-cigarette puff availability decreased tobacco puff purchasing significantly more so than nicotine gum availability. E-cigarettes may serve as a substitute for tobacco cigarettes, and may be a superior substitute for smoking compared to nicotine gum. These data indicate that e-cigarettes may serve a powerful role as smoking cessation or reduction aids.

Effects of Filter Ventilation on Behavioral-Economic Demand for Cigarettes
JEFFREY S. STEIN (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute), Medha Satyal (Virginia Tech), Mikhail Koffarnus (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute), Warren K. Bickel (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute)
Abstract: The majority of cigarettes sold in the US and abroad feature filter ventilation holes designed to dilute mainstream smoke. Although initially introduced to produce a lighter-tasting and potentially safer cigarette, more recent data suggest that ventilation instead increases cigarette abuse liability and total harm from smoking. In the present study, we compared behavioral-economic demand for ventilated and unventilated cigarettes. After sampling study cigarettes, regular smokers (N = 11; additional data to be collected) used an experimental income to purchase ventilated and/or unventilated cigarettes across a range of prices. At the end of each session, participants received all cigarettes they purchased at one randomly selected price. In sessions in which only one cigarette type was available, demand measures were undifferentiated between types. However, in sessions in which both cigarettes were available at equivalent unit prices, clear preference for ventilated cigarettes emerged (p < .001). Thus, relative demand for unventilated cigarettes depends on the availability of ventilated cigarettes. Data from hypothetical purchase tasks show similar effects, while also showing patterns of asymmetrical substitution (i.e., ventilated cigarettes substitute more effectively for unventilated cigarettes, compared to the opposite condition). Investigations such as these may be used to inform regulatory restrictions on cigarette filter ventilation.



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