Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jeffrey Weatherly


Many of the decision-making tasks involve gambling and gambling paradigms and therefore it is important to understand how gambling relates to decision-making, especially in individuals who use substances. The goal of this study was to investigate how individuals with SUD will perform on a slot machine and relate the slot-machine performance to current lab measures of decision-making. Individuals with and without substance use disorders gambled on a slot machine and completed other decision-making tasks (e.g., IGT, BART, delay discounting). Rewards were manipulated in terms of magnitude (real monetary payout verses no payout) for two reasons. Gambling performance was compared to three common lab measures of decision-making (i.e., IGT, BART, & delay discounting). In addition, measures of substance use and gambling motivation were obtained to relate the slot-machine paradigm to meaningful reasons for engaging in addictive behaviors. There were four main findings in this study. First, all participants tended to bet more tokens per trial on the slot machine when there was no monetary compensation compared to if there was. Second, no group or magnitude differences were found on any of the decision-making tasks (i.e., IGT, BART, and delay discounting). Third, the slot machine and all the decision-making task seems to be relatively independent from each other. Fourth, performance on the slot machine and the decision-making tasks was able to predict using alcohol for positive reinforcement, in particular, for social situations and enhancing positive feelings and experiences. It is important that future research investigates decision making 1) uses multiple measures of decision making to access potentially different aspect of decision-making and 2) flesh out the differences between these tasks and find out what these tasks are able to detect.