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Contextual Control of Delay Discounting by Pathological Gamblers

The Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
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  • Research Articles
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The present study demonstrated the relative impact of gambling and nongambling contexts on the degree of delay discounting by pathological gamblers. We used a delay-discounting task with 20 pathological gamblers in and out of the natural context in which they regularly gambled. For 16 of the 20 participants, it appeared that the difference of context altered the subjective value of delayed rewards, thereby producing relative changes in delay-discounting rates that were generally consistent with a hyperbolic model of intertemporal choice. The current data suggest that empirically derived k values from delay-discounting tasks are context sensitive and are not constant across various settings for the individual. Implications for future transitional research on addictive disorders generally, and gambling specifically, are discussed.

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