Time constraints in the alcohol purchase task

Brent A. Kaplan, Derek D. Reed, James G. Murphy, Amy J. Henley, Florence D. DiGennaro Reed, Peter G. Roma, Steven R. Hursh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Hypothetical purchase tasks have advanced behavioral economic evaluations of demand by circumvent ing practical and ethical restrictions associated with delivering drug reinforcers to participants. Numerou studies examining the reliability and validity of purchase task methodology suggest that it is a valuabl method for assessing demand that warrants continued use and evaluation.Within the literature examinin purchase tasks, the alcohol purchase task (APT) has received the most investigation, and currentl represents the most experimentally validated variant. However, inconsistencies in purchase task meth odology between studies exist, even within APT studies, and, to date, none have assessed the influenc of experimental economic constraints on responding. This study examined changes in Q0 (reporte consumption when drinks are free), breakpoint (price that suppresses consumption), and α (rate of chang in demand elasticity) in the presence of different hypothetical durations of access to alcohol in an APT One hundred seventy-nine participants (94 males, 85 females) from Amazon Mechanical Turk complete 3 APTs that varied in the duration of time at a party (i.e., access to alcoholic beverages) as described i the APT instructions (i.e., vignette). The 3 durations included 5-hr (used by Murphy et al., 2013), 1-h and 9-hr time frames. We found that hypothetical duration of access was significantly related to Q0 an breakpoint at the individual level. Additionally, group-level mean α decreased significantly wit increases in duration of access, thus indicating relatively higher demand for alcohol with longer duration of access.We discuss implications for conducting hypothetical purchase task research and alcohol misus prevention efforts. Public Health Significance This study examines the degree to which hypothetical alcohol consumption event duration impacts relative consumption of alcohol drinks in a commonly used purchase task. Results suggest that drinking duration affects alcohol demand in unexpected ways. Assessing effects of duration on alcohol demand may help provide novel insights into pregaming drinking as well as extended event drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.


  • Alcohol purchase task
  • Behavioral economics
  • Closed economy
  • Demand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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