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Date of Graduation
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Daniel D. Holt
Within the past few decades, the psychological field of operant behaviorism has converged with the field of economics to aid in the description and interpretation of behavior. In doing so, more stringent, empirical methods of measuring and analyzing behavior have been produced. Laboratory experiments with both human and non-human animals have been used to study concepts that are integral to both fields, such as supply and demand, scarcity, and choice behavior. One goal of behavioral-economic research is to establish a demand function; that is, how does a change in the price of a commodity influence changes in its consumption? Consequently, what other factors influence consumption beyond changes in price alone? The current study aimed to replicate previous research and present further evidence for the generation of a demand function by observing the food consumption of animal subjects (pigeons) under controlled conditions. Specifically, an increasing fixed-ratio (FR) schedule of reinforcement was used over a short period of time (5 days) to rapidly measure changes in demand. Outcomes frequently related to responding in behavioral experiments (i.e., interresponse-times, post-reinforcement pauses, and shifts in weight) were also measured. A repeated measures ANOVA evidenced significant decreases in consumption as price increased. Behavioral economic formulae provided moderate to strong model fits for demand data (average R2 = 0.83), suggesting that demand behavior is able to be measured under speeded conditions and across species.
Nastos, Charles, "Rapid demand curves: Reward valuation using behavioral economics" (2019). Masters Theses, 2010-2019. 592.