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 #470
CE Offered: BACB
A ‘Reel’ Problem: The Influence of Verbal and Contextual Variables on Gambling Behavior and Reducing the Negative Influence of Disordered Gambling
Monday, May 29, 2017
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 5-7
Area: CBM/CSS; Domain: Translational
Chair: Sarah Litten (University of Southern Mississippi)
CE Instructor: Dana Paliliunas, M.S.
Abstract: The gambling industry generates more revenue than the entertainment and sports industries combined, resulting in estimates as a high as 4% of the general population suffering from disordered gambling. International efforts have been made to better understand the sources of disordered gambling, with an emphasis on the development of preventative strategies as well as treatment strategies in application with this population. The first discussion will showcase how verbal relations can lead to suboptimal decision making in the context of losses disguised as wins. The second discussion will demonstrate the potential therapeutic utility of relational defusion in decreasing the contextual influence of verbal relations. The final discussion will highlight a harm-reduction strategy by teaching gamblers to optimize gambling strategies when attending real casinos. Together, this collection of research will put forward a behavior analytic model of gambling behavior, and will show how behavior analytic strategies can be used to treat and prevent disordered gambling.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Gambling, Harm Reduction, Preventative Strategies, Verbal Relations

Decreasing the Influence of Relational Verbal Networks on Gambling Behavior Through Therapeutic Exercises

(Basic Research)
DANA PALILIUNAS (Southern Illinois University), Jordan Belisle (Southern Illinois University), Ryan C. Speelman (Pittsburg State University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

The prevalence of disordered gambling in the United States, due in part to the large scale availability of avenues for gambling, both in person and online, has led to the study of treatments for pathological gambling. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is based on the Relational Frame Theory (RFT) account of human language, is one form of intervention that has demonstrated its utility in the treatment of problem gambling. Although outcome data for ACT suggest that it is an effective therapeutic approach, there is limited research regarding the relational frames which underlie ACT core process therapeutic exercises (i.e. defusion, self as context, etc.) which comprise the treatment. The presents studies examine the effect of conditioning verbal relations in the context of therapeutic exercises on the participants responding during gambling tasks. This collection of studies will examine the role of experiential exercises on the defusion of rule governed behavior underlying gambling, contextual variables on impulsive choice behavior of gamblers, and mindfulness activities on suboptimal decision making in a gambling context. Implications of focused research on the relational networks underlying core processes of ACT in terms of broader treatment for disordered gamblers will be discussed.

Using Behavioral Skills Training to Promote Optimal Blackjack Strategies
(Basic Research)
RYAN C. SPEELMAN (Pittsburg State University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), David Legaspi (Southern Illinois University), Kyle E Rowsey (University of Southern Mississippi)
Abstract: The proliferation of gambling has exposed millions of Americans to contrived games in which casinos or other vendors hold a statistical and financial edge over a player. Due to the overwhelming popularity of these games, interventions designed to promote optimal choice and improve strategy are socially valid. The present study replicates a previous investigation that taught recreational players blackjack strategies and extends this study by incorporating multiple decks and testing for generalization to an authentic casino setting. A multiple baseline across participants design examined the efficacy of a behavior skills training procedure consisting of video instructions, rehearsal and testing to promote optimal choice-making in blackjack and notably, to teach a specific skill in blackjack (sometimes referred to as card counting). Prior to training, no participants counted cards or won a substantial amount of money while playing. Following training, all three recreational blackjack players counted cards with 100% accuracy and won money in a casino setting, likely improving the entertainment value and reducing the financial costs of the game. These results suggest recreational players would likely benefit from training procedures designed to educate and promote optimal choice-making
Losses Disguised as Wins in Slot Machines: A Case of Contingency Confusion
(Basic Research)
JACOB H. DAAR (Northern Michigan University), Ashley Shayter (Southern Illinois University), Dana Paliliunas (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The presentation of outcome stimuli on modern slot machines are thought to occasion gamblers to inaccurately detect the programmed contingencies.  One recently added characteristic of modern slot machines is the ability to deliver wins with lower magnitudes of credits than the initially staked wagers.  Termed a "loss disguised as a win" (LDW), this type of consequence appears to produce reinforcement effects despite representing an overall loss.  In a series of three experiments using computer simulated slot machines, the presentation of LDWs were initially evaluated for possible influence on the temporal characteristics of repeated wagers, subsequently examined to potentially bias response allocation across concurrently available LDW display densities, and finally appraised after labeling training designed to potentially alter the discriminative and consequential functions of LDWs.  Participants in these studies responded differentially following outcome types, allocated more responding on slot machines that produced higher densities of LDWs despite payback rates remaining similar, and maintained responding to LDWs as different from losses even when participant verbal behavior was trained to identify LDWs as a loss. The lack of change in gambler’s behaviors despite changes in verbal responding suggests the importance of behavioral interventions over verbal ones in the alteration of irrational gambling behavior



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