Hypothetical purchase tasks allow for rapid assessment of behavioral economic demand for numerous commodities and are useful in evaluating reinforcer pathologies, such as substance and behavioral addiction. Currently, there is not a task for evaluating demand for sex without requiring implicit engagement in sex work. The current study used a novel purchase task with hotel rooms for sex as the hypothetical commodity to assess demand for sex in individuals with disordered cocaine use, a population that frequently engages in risky sexual behavior. Adults meeting criteria for cocaine abuse or dependence (13 males, ten females) and noncocaine-using controls (eight males, three females) chose hypothetical sexual partners from a series of photographs and endorsed two partners with whom they would most and least like to have sex. Participants then completed the hotel purchase task for both partners, wherein they reported how many nights at a hotel room, at prices from $10 to $1280 per night, they would purchase in a year. Demand intensity was significantly greater and demand elasticity was significantly lower for the most preferred relative to the less preferred partner. Males demonstrated significantly greater intensity and lesser elasticity for sex than females. Demand metrics did not differ between the cocaine and control group. This task may serve as a useful measure of demand for sex without requiring implicit hypothetical engagement in sex work. Future studies exploring the relation between task performance and other characteristics such as sexual dysfunction, in addition to acute substance administration effects, may further determine the task’s clinical utility.
- Behavioral economics
- Gender differences
- Purchase task
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)