Reframing Health Behavior: Change with Behavioral Economics

By Warren K. Bickel; Rudy E. Vuchinich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Behavioral Economic Concepts and Methods for Studying Health Behavior1

Steven R. Hursh Johns Hopkins University Medical School and Science Applications International Corporation

Concepts of behavioral economics have proven useful for understanding the environmental control of overall levels of behavior for a variety of commodities in closed systems ( Bickel, DeGrandpre, Higgins, & Hughes, 1990; Bickel, DeGrandpre, Hughes, & Higgins, 1991; Bickel & Madden, 1997; Foltin, 1992; Hursh, 1984; Lea, 1978; Lea & Roper, 1977; Rashotte & Henderson , 1988) and the factors that control the allocation of behavioral resources among available reinforcers ( Hursh, 1980, 1984; Hursh & Bauman, 1987). As a practical matter, this approach has borrowed terms from microeconomics, especially consumer demand theory and labor supply theory ( Allison, 1983; Allison, Miller, & Wozny, 1979; Lea, 1978; Rachlin, Green, Kagel, & Battalio, 1976; Staddon, 1979; see Watson & Holman, 1977, for a review of relevant microeconomic theory); however, these terms often take on a special meaning when applied within behavior analysis and are not simple replacements for common behavioral processes, such as reinforcement, discrimination, differentiation, and the like. Indeed, behavioral economics has garnered interest because it has directed our attention to new phenomena previously ignored and new functional relations previously un

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1
Reprints may be obtained by writing Steven R. Hursh, Science Applications International Corporation, 626 Towne Center Drive, Suite 301, Joppa, Maryland, 21085. The research described in this report was conducted in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and other Federal statutes and regulations relating to animals and experiments involving animals and adheres to the principles stated in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, NIH publication 86-23, 1985 edition.

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