Normalized demand for drugs and other reinforcers.

S. R. Hursh, G. Winger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


The concepts of behavioral economics have proven to be useful for understanding the environmental control of overall levels of responding for a variety of commodities, including reinforcement by drug self-administration. These general concepts have implications for the assessment of abuse liability and drug abuse intervention and the formulation of public policy on drug abuse. An essential requirement is the ability to compare the demand for different drugs directly in order to assess relative abuse liability, and to compare demand for the same drug under different environmental and biological interventions to assess their ability to reduce demand. Until now, such comparisons were hampered by the confounding effect of varying drug doses and potencies that prevent quantitative comparisons of demand elasticity--sensitivity of consumption and responding to the constraint of price (effort). In this paper we describe a procedure to normalize demand-curve analysis that permits dose- and potency-independent comparisons of demand across drugs. The procedure is shown to be effective for comparing drug demand within and across the drug classes. The technique permits a quantitative ordering of demand that is consistent with the peak levels of responding maintained by the drugs. The same technique is generalized for the comparison of other types of reinforcers under different biological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Psychology(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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