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Effects of income on drug choice in humans.

By R J DeGrandpre, W K Bickel, S A Rizvi and J R Hughes


The effects of income (money available to spend during the experimental session) on human choice were examined in a concurrent-schedule arrangement. Subjects were 7 nicotine-dependent smokers, and reinforcers were puffs on the subject's usual brand of cigarette ("own") and puffs on a less preferred brand of cigarette with equal nicotine content ("other"). Across sessions, income varied and the price of the two reinforcers was held constant, with the other puffs one fifth the price of the own puffs. As income increased, consumption of own puffs increased while consumption of the less expensive other puffs decreased. These effects of income on choice were highly consistent across subjects. For some subjects, however, income had little effect on total puff consumption. Finally, an additional condition examined whether price and income manipulations would have functionally equivalent effects on choice by repeating an income condition in which the price of the other brand was increased. Although the increased price of the other puffs decreased their consumption in 4 subjects, 2 subjects showed increased consumption of the other puffs at the higher price. The results, when defined in economic terms, indicate that the own puffs were a normal good (consumption and income are directly related), the other puffs were an inferior good (consumption and income are inversely related), and the direct relationship between consumption of the other puffs and their price is defined as a Giffengood effect. The latter result also suggests that for these 2 subjects, price and income manipulations had equivalent effects on choice. These results extend findings from previous studies that have examined the effects of income on choice responding to human subjects and drug reinforcers, and provide a framework for further experimental tests of the effects of income on human choice behavior. Methodological and theoretical implications for the study of choice and for behavioral pharmacology are discussed

Topics: Research Article
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