Emergent response allocation and outcome ratings in slot machine gambling

Abstract

AB The present study describes a contemporary behavior-analytic model of emergent simulated slot machine gambling. Three laboratory experiments investigated the conditions under which stimuli correlated with different slot machine payout probabilities come to have new, emergent functions without those functions being trained directly. After a successful test for verbal relations (A1-B1-C1 and A2-B2-C2), gamblers and nongamblers were exposed to a task in which high- and low-payout probability functions were established for two slot machines labeled with members of the derived relations (B1 and B2). In Experiment 1, participants provided ratings and chose between concurrently presented slot machines labeled with indirectly related stimuli (C1 and C2). In Experiments 2 and 3, participants made ratings and chose under conditions of nonreinforcement and matched payout probabilities, respectively. Across all three experiments, it was predicted that participants would make more selections of, and give higher liking ratings to, the slot machine indirectly related to the trained high-payout probability machine (C2) than the slot machine indirectly related to the trained low-payout probability machine (C1). Findings supported these predictions. The implications for behavior-analytic research on gambling and the development of verbally based interventions for disordered gambling are discussed.

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