Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Malott

Third Advisor

Dr. Cynthia J. Pietras

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Andrew E. Brandt


Gambling, functional analysis, negative reinforcement. escape. behavior analysis


Given high rates of gambling and the growing population of disordered gamblers, there is a need to develop assessment strategies with improved treatment validity. More specifically, assessment strategies are needed that identify the controlling variables for disordered gambling and, thus, provide guidance in the selection of treatment and prevention strategies. This study sought to develop a functional analysis for gambling by utilizing a simulated gambling environment in which contextual variables hypothesized to be causally linked to disordered gambling could be systematically manipulated. Seven experienced gamblers participated in the multi-element, single-subject experimental study. Participants who endorsed at least some problems from gambling were found to have their behavior under control of negative reinforcement variables, whereas non-disordered gamblers had undifferentiated (positive and negative reinforcement) controlling variables. Limitations of the experimental conditions and implications for research are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access