The impact of precommitment on risk-taking while gambling: A preliminary study (Open Access)

Background and aims: Precommitment refers to the ability to prospectively restrict the access to temptations. This study examined whether risk-taking during gambling is decreased when an individual has the opportunity to precommit to his forthcoming bet.

Methods: Sixty individuals participated in a gambling task that consisted of direct choice (simply chose one monetary option among four available ones, ranging from low-risk to high-risk options) or precommitment trials (before choosing an amount, participants had the opportunity to make a binding choice that made high-risk options unavailable).

Results: We found that participants utilized the precommitment option, such that risk-taking was decreased on precommitment trials compared to direct choices. Within the precommitment trials, there was no significant difference in risk-taking following decisions to restrict versus non-restrict.

Discussion: These findings suggest that the opportunity to precommit may be sufficient to reduce the attractiveness of risk.

Conclusions: Present results might be exploited to create interventions aiming at enhancing one’s ability to anticipate self-control failures while gambling.

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