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WCALB | Keynote Address & Focus Session


An Animal Model of Human Gambling Behavior

 Tom Zentall

University of Kentucky

 Abstract--Humans buying lottery tickets are engaging in an activity that generally leads to losing money. Although animals are purported to engage in optimal foraging behavior and should be sensitive to the overall probability or amount of reinforcement, they can exhibit similar suboptimal behavior. This appears to result from the strong conditioned reinforcement associated with a stimulus always followed by reinforcement but little conditioned inhibition associated with the absence of reinforcement. Similarly, human gamblers tend to overvalue wins and undervalue losses. Other parallels to human gambling behavior have been found with pigeons.  Pigeons on a less restricted diet show a reduced tendency to choose suboptimally, as do pigeons with enriched social experience. This animal model may provide a useful analog to human gambling behavior -- one that is free from the influence of human culture, language, social reinforcement, and other experiential biases that may encourage human gambling.

Thomas Zentall is DiSilvestro Professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky, Fellow in the Society of Experimental Psychologists and was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at Université de Lille, France. Dr. Zentall received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. He has served as President of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Eastern Psychological Association, Comparative Cognition Society as well as Governing Board Chair of the Psychonomic Society.

WCALB 2015 Focus Session Participants:

Gambling Primates: Reactions to a Modified Iowa Gambling Task in Humans, Chimpanzees and Capuchin Monkeys. Darby Proctor (Yerkes National Primate Research Center)

 Gambling: How Uncertainty Enhances the Attribution of Incentive Salience. Mike Robinson (Wesleyan University)

 Choice Between Reliable and Unreliable Sources of Reinforcement. Terry Belke (Mount Allison University)

 The Trouble With the (Discounting) Curve. Kimberly Kirkpatrick (Kansas State University)

 Conditioning History, Conditioned Inhibition and the Decision to Seek Drugs. Stanley Weiss (American University)

 Investigation of the Monty Hall Dilemma in Pigeons and Rats (tentative).  Jessica Stagner (University of Florida)

 Do humans share non-human's preference for variable schedules of reinforcement? Stephen Flora (Youngstown State University)

Is More Better Than Less.  Tomas Zentall, Jacob Case U Jasmine Luong, University of Kentucky

Pavlovian Impulsivity:Predictions From a Neural Network Model.  José Burgos & Óscar García, (University of Guadalajara)