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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #506
CE Offered: BACB
Current Directions in Behavioral Economic Approaches to Demand
Monday, May 25, 2020
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Level M2, Marquis Ballroom 5
Area: BPN/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Bethany R. Raiff (Rowan University)
Discussant: Gregory J. Madden (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Gregory J. Madden, Ph.D.

This symposium will address how economic demand can be used to understand a variety of issues, with a focus on substance use disorders such as smoking, alcohol use, and non-prescription stimulant use. Results generated using hypothetical, as well as laboratory-based, demand tasks will be described. Although these methods can, and have, been applied to a broad range of topics, some potential limitations will also be explored. The symposium will end with a discussion about the implications of the research presented.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): addiction, behavioral economics, hypothetical demand, laboratory methods
Target Audience:

Individuals interested in behavioral economics and how it can be applied to a variety of topics, including substance use disorders.

A Behavioral Economic Swiss-Army Knife: Flexible Applications of the Commodity Purchase Task in Behavior Analysis
JUSTIN CHARLES STRICKLAND (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Behavioral economic demand analyses are multi-faceted methods for evaluating commodity valuation and characterizing how the availability of specific commodities influence the valuation of others. Practical, ethical, and regulatory challenges, however, limit the extent that traditional demand techniques may be used to understand certain health behaviors. The commodity purchase task is a procedure that allows for assessment of behavioral economic demand in an effective and efficient manner. This presentation will highlight the flexibility of the commodity purchase task for varied notoriously difficult-to-study research contexts and participant populations. Data will be presented from adult participants recruited for laboratory studies, inpatient protocols, and web-based survey or intervention settings to emphasize the diverse contexts in which purchase tasks may be applied. Findings from purchase tasks involving varied commodities, including drugs of abuse, condoms, and social interaction, will be presented. This overview of data-driven findings will emphasize that commodity purchase tasks allow for evaluation of: 1) vulnerable population for whom traditional protocols like drug self-administration are not ethically feasible (e.g., treatment-seeking individuals), 2) commodities for which experimental manipulations are not achievable (e.g., engagement in protected sexual intercourse), and 3) research in remote contexts for which typical methods are not practically possible.
Delay Discounting and Behavioral Economic Demand for Alcohol in a Census-Matched National Sample of Adults
MIKHAIL KOFFARNUS (Department of Family and Community Medicine University of Kentucky College of Medicine), Brent Kaplan (University of Kentucky)
Abstract: Behavioral economic measures of delay discounting and commodity demand have become popular ways to quantify aspects of reward valuation. These tasks have shown: utility in differentiating groups with healthier behavior patterns from groups with unhealthier behavior (e.g., substance misusers vs. nonusers, obese vs. healthy-weight adults); to correlate with severity or degree of unhealthy behavior; to predict success with behavior change interventions; and to reflect positive behavior change. Despite this wealth of research, the use of convenience samples in research and variability in task modality and format have made it difficult to judge if a specific delay discounting rate or demand metric collected in a single individual is ‘normal’, ‘high’, or ‘low’. As behavioral economic measures move into the clinical realm, such individual-subject judgements will be of increasing value. In the present experiment, we commissioned a large national sample of over 1000 adults recruited to match United States census data for age, gender, income, and race; and to match epidemiolocal data for levels of alcohol and cigarette use. Results include a replication of the discounting magnitude effect (p<.001). I will discuss the utility of these ‘normal’ behavioral economic measures for clinicians and researchers and the limitations of our sample.

Reduced-Nicotine Cigarettes: Behavioral Economics of Operant Reinforcement

MATTHEW W. JOHNSON (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Sean Dolan (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), David Cox (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Justin Charles Strickland (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Meredith Steele Berry (University of Florida)

The FDA has authority to regulate cigarette nicotine content. Reducing nicotine might reduce smoking. In an ongoing study, smokers (n=30) completed operant sessions. Participants worked for cigarette puffs across a range of fixed-ratio requirements (Lindsley plunger; FR-10 to FR-10,000 for 3-puffs), with full- (14.8 mg/g) and reduced-nicotine (4.8, 2.2, or 1.3 mg/g across participants) cigarettes available alone and concurrently. Following initial demand sessions, participants were given reduced-nicotine cigarettes to smoke over a three-week exposure period. Participants returned to the laboratory to repeat demand sessions. Demand did not differ between full-nicotine and reduced-nicotine cigarettes. Similarly, as full-nicotine FR increased, concurrently-available reduced-nicotine cigarette consumption increased. There was a reduction in demand for full- and reduced-nicotine content cigarettes following the exposure period in the single-item but not concurrent demand procedures. Data suggest similar demand across nicotine content; that prolonged nicotine-reduction might decrease cigarette demand; and that reduced-nicotine cigarettes may substitute for full-nicotine cigarettes.

Examining the Utility of a Functional Purchase Task to Measure Motives for Non-Medical Prescription Stimulant Use
MATTHEW J DWYER (Rowan University), Connor Andrew Burrows (Rowan University), Bethany R. Raiff (Rowan University)
Abstract: The hypothetical purchase task (HPT) has been explored as a generalizable approach to assessing reinforcer value and demand for substances such as alcohol and cigarettes, and has more recently been used to measure demand for non-medical prescription stimulant use (NMPSU) among college students. However, this work has yet to be replicated, and questions remain regarding the extension of a traditional HPT format for this population. The purpose of the current study is to replicate the use of an HPT for college student NMPSU in samples from three different universities (n= 112). Results will be compared on both the aggregate and individual levels to provide a basis for discussing the ecological validity and utility of applying the traditional HPT approach to NMPSU. Additionally, limitations for how well analysis of data obtained from an HPT reflects high reinforcing value among college students will be evaluated. To help answer this question, data from a modified functional stimulant purchase task that assesses differential demand based on preference for specific drug effects will be introduced as one approach to expanding the HPT paradigm. Finally, possible applied implications will be proposed for how this functional assessment approach to demand analysis may inform intervention and prevention efforts.



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