Latent factor structure of a behavioral economic marijuana demand curve

Elizabeth R. Aston, Samantha G. Farris, James MacKillop, Jane Metrik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Rationale: Drug demand, or relative value, can be assessed via analysis of behavioral economic purchase task performance. Five demand indices are typically obtained from drug purchase tasks. Objectives: The goal of this research was to determine whether metrics of marijuana reinforcement from a marijuana purchase task (MPT) exhibit a latent factor structure that efficiently characterizes marijuana demand. Methods: Participants were regular marijuana users (n = 99; 37.4% female, 71.5% marijuana use days [5 days/week], 15.2% cannabis dependent) who completed study assessments, including the MPT, during a baseline session. Principal component analysis was used to examine the latent structure underlying MPT indices. Concurrent validity was assessed via examination of relationships between latent factors and marijuana use, past quit attempts, and marijuana expectancies. Results: A two-factor solution was confirmed as the best fitting structure, accounting for 88.5% of the overall variance. Factor 1 (65.8% variance) reflected “Persistence,” indicating sensitivity to escalating marijuana price, which comprised four MPT indices (elasticity, Omax, Pmax, and breakpoint). Factor 2 (22.7% variance) reflected “Amplitude,” indicating the amount consumed at unrestricted price (intensity). Persistence factor scores were associated with fewer past marijuana quit attempts and lower expectancies of negative use outcomes. Amplitude factor scores were associated with more frequent use, dependence symptoms, craving severity, and positive marijuana outcome expectancies. Conclusions: Consistent with research on alcohol and cigarette purchase tasks, the MPT can be characterized with a latent two-factor structure. Thus, demand for marijuana appears to encompass distinct dimensions of price sensitivity and volumetric consumption, with differential relations to other aspects of marijuana motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2421-2429
Number of pages9
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology


  • Behavioral economics
  • Demand curve
  • Exploratory factor analysis
  • Marijuana
  • Purchase task


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