Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. William W. Stoops


The marriage of perspectives from behavioral economic theory and learning theory has the potential to advance an understanding of substance use and substance use disorder. Behavioral economic demand is a central concept to this interdisciplinary approach. Evaluating demand in the laboratory and clinic can improve previous research on the relative reinforcing effects of drugs by accounting for the multi-dimensional nature of reinforcement rather than viewing reinforcement as a unitary construct. Recent advances in the commodity purchase task methodology have further simplified the measurement of demand values in human participants. This dissertation project presents a programmatic series of studies designed to demonstrate the utility of using a behavioral economic demand framework and the purchase task methodology for understanding substance use disorder through basic and applied science research. Experiments are presented spanning a continuum from theoretical and methodological development to longitudinal work and clinical application. These experiments demonstrate three key conclusions regarding behavioral economic demand. First, behavioral economic demand provides a reliable and valid measure of drug valuation that is applicable to varied drug types and participant populations. Second, behavioral economic demand is a stimulus-selective measure specifically reflecting valuation for the commodity under study. Third, behavioral economic demand provides incremental information about substance use in the laboratory and clinical setting above and beyond traditional measures of reinforcer valuation and other behavioral economic variables. These findings collectively highlight the benefits of behavioral economic demand and provide an important platform for future work in addiction science.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation 1247392 [JCS], graduate research grants from the Psi Chi Honor Society [JCS], pilot research funds from the University of Kentucky Department of Behavioral Science and Center on Drug and Alcohol Research [JCS], and professional development funds from the University of Kentucky [WWS].