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Discriminative and Reinforcing Effects of the Near Miss in Simulated Slot Machine Play
AuthorTaylor, Emily L.
AdvisorGhezzi, Patrick M.
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The near miss in slot machine gambling may be described as two of three winning symbols aligning on the pay line and usually is responded to as a form of feedback for the individual who is participating in various types of games. For gambling, the near miss does not actually provide such feedback, and, therefore, it is thought that a near miss may contribute to prolonging play. Behavior analytic research has been interested in this supposed phenomenon for some time and has looked to explore the proposed conditioned reinforcing effects of the near miss using the S-S and S-R hypotheses (Hendry, 1969). Experiment 1 examined the reinforcing effects of a near miss that has been paired with a win to facilitate acquisition of conditioned reinforcing properties and unpaired with a win (instead, paired with a loss) to simulate extinction conditions with a six-component counterbalanced reversal design. Experiment 2 examined the discriminative effects on betting behavior when a near-miss is paired and unpaired with a win. Frequency and total time measures suggest that in neither experiment did the near miss come to function as a conditioned reinforcer. Average response latency measures in Experiment 1 showed clear delineation between win outcomes in comparison to near-miss and full loss outcomes. Further, for some participants in Experiment 2, a higher percentage of betting occurred following a near miss outcome in the explicitly paired conditions. The implications of these data, limitations of the experimental preparation, and areas for future research will be discussed.