A behavioral economic analysis of concurrent ethanol- and water- reinforced responding in different preference conditions

Keith L. Williams, James H. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The reinforcing properties of orally self-administered drugs have been evaluated by using choice procedures. The preference for the drug over a nondrug alternative has indicated that the drug has greater value than the nondrug alternative as a reinforcer at some drug concentrations. However, at large drug concentrations, the fluid deliveries of the drug may be equal to or less than those of the nondrug alternative, whereas the actual drug intake (milligrams per kilogram of body weight) may continue to increase. In this study, we used behavioral economics to evaluate the reinforcing strength of ethanol in conditions where baseline ethanol fluid deliveries were greater than, equal to, or less than those of the concurrently available water. Methods: Four male rhesus monkeys were allowed access to ethanol (2%, 8%, or 32%) and water for 2 hr/day under a fixed ratio (FR) 4 reinforcement schedule. At each ethanol concentration, the FR for both fluids was gradually increased to FR 64. Results: During the FR 4 schedule, the fluid deliveries of ethanol at 2%, 8%, and 32% were greater than, equal to, and less than those of water, respectively. When the FR was increased at 2% ethanol, fluid deliveries and responding decreased for both the ethanol and water. When the FR was increased at 8% ethanol, water fluid deliveries and responding decreased more rapidly than did those of ethanol. When the FR was increased at 32% ethanol, the ethanol fluid deliveries remained the same across all FRs, whereas water fluid deliveries decreased rapidly. At 8% and 32% ethanol, the responding for ethanol, relative to water, increased dramatically. Conclusions: In behavioral economic terms, demand for ethanol was more inelastic regardless of whether the ethanol or water maintained more absolute fluid deliveries at baseline FRs. Therefore, researchers should examine the reinforcing effects of ethanol in a variety of concentration and schedule conditions rather than drawing inferences regarding reinforcing effects simply based on a preference measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)980-986
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Choice
  • Monkeys
  • Operant Behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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