The “Walk of Shame”: a Qualitative Study of the Influences of Negative Stereotyping of Problem Gambling on Gambling Attitudes and Behaviours

By Helen E. Miller, Samantha Thomas.

Problem gambling is known to be associated with significant stigma, but there is limited research on the negative stereotypes that underpin this judgement. Understanding the stereotypes that contribute to the stigmatisation of problem gambling may help to identify new approaches to reducing gambling stigma. Using data collected during 100 in-depth qualitative interviews with gamblers in Victoria, Australia, we explored factors which underpin negative stereotypes about people with gambling problems, the influence of negative stereotypes on behaviours and attitudes and differences in attitudes to different gambling products. Participants perceived that people with gambling problems were lacked responsibility and control, as were “lazy”, “stupid” and “greedy.” Electronic gambling machine (EGM) gamblers were particularly stigmatised. Negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility led to feelings of guilt and shame in people with gambling problems, as well as increased social isolation, and also impacted on moderate-risk gamblers, who contrasted their own behaviour with a stereotyped idea of a person with a gambling problem. Participants linked stereotyped portrayals of problem gambling to discussions of the gambling industry, which they perceived focused on control and responsibility, and the media, which they perceived emphasised extreme negative consequences from gambling. This study suggests that negative stereotypes focusing on personal responsibility for gambling problems are a factor leading to the stigmatisation of people with gambling problems.


The Longitudinal Relationships Between Psychiatric Disorders and Gambling Disorders

Hartmann, M. & Blaszczynski, A.

The literature has consistently reported an association between gambling disorders and various comorbid psychiatric and substance conditions. The majority of studies have been cross-sectional in nature, and therefore fail to describe the temporal sequences between these conditions. To investigate these temporal sequences we conducted a scoping review of empirical longitudinal studies that have explored the relationships between gambling disorders and comorbid psychiatric disorders, including any mood and anxiety disorders, suicidal ideations and attempts, and illicit substance, nicotine and alcohol use and dependence. A search was conducted for peer reviewed and unpublished articles, and government reports published between January 2000 and March 2015, with a main focus on the temporal sequence between these two conditions. Studies were only included if they were in English, prospective in nature, studied treatment and population samples and included any form of gambling. A total of 35 publications were identified and the findings discussed in terms of three populations: (i) specific populations, (ii) children, adolescents, and young adults, and (iii) adults. On the basis of these longitudinal findings it is suggested that psychiatric disorders can represent both a precursor and a consequence of problem gambling, and that there are underlying interactive factors, such as impulsivity that can predict and drive both temporal sequences. Screening for comorbid psychiatric conditions upon entering treatment for problem gambling should form an integral part of clinical assessments. However, the extent to which comorbid conditions contribute causally to the development of gambling disorders remains to be conclusively established.

Hartmann, M. & Blaszczynski, A. Int J Ment Health Addiction (2016). doi:10.1007/s11469-016-9705-z

The Case for Using Personally Relevant and Emotionally Stimulating Gambling Messages as a Gambling Harm-Minimisation Strategy (open access)

Harris, A., Parke, A., & Griffiths, M. D.
Emotions typically exert powerful, enduring, and often predictable influences over decision-making. However, emotion-based decision-making is seen as a mediator of impulsive and reckless gambling behaviour, where emotion may be seen as the antithesis of controlled and rational decision-making, a proposition supported by recent neuroimaging evidence. The present paper argues that the same emotional mechanisms can be used to influence a gambler to cease gambling, by focusing their emotional decision-making on positive external and personally relevant factors, such as familial impact or longer term financial factors. Emotionally stimulating messages may also have the advantage of capturing attention above and beyond traditionally responsible gambling messaging. This is important given the highly emotionally aroused states often experienced by both gamblers and problem gamblers, where attentional activation thresholds for external stimuli such as messages may be increased.

Understanding the Effects of Social Desirability on Gambling Self-Reports

Gambling self-reports may be subject to several types of bias, including social desirability bias, which may undermine their utility for capturing gambling behaviour in both research and clinical practice. Retrospective self-reports of gambling are frequently used to assess patterns of behaviour over specific periods of time, but may not be as reliable as experience sampling (ES) methods, which involve multiple assessments of gambling over the course of several days. The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of two aspects of social desirability, impression management (IM) and self-deceptive enhancement (SDE), on the correspondence between reports of gambling assessed via ES and retrospective recall using the Gambling Timeline Followback (G-TLFB; Weinstock et al. Psychological Assessment, 16, 72–80, 2004). Participants were 81 emerging adult gamblers who completed a 30-day ES study and a retrospective assessment of their gambling. Although the overall association between social desirability and gambling reports was minimal, the correspondence between retrospective and ES reports was lower for those with higher scores on IM (for money won-lost) and SDE (for money intended to risk). Gamblers who wish to present themselves in a favourable way – either intentionally (IM) or unintentionally (SDE) – may be less reliable in their reports of gambling when asked to reflect on an extended period of time compared to when asked to provide an in-the-moment account of their gambling behaviour. These findings have important implications for understanding the circumstances under which individuals bias their retrospective self-reports of gambling and highlight the utility of more fine-grained assessments of gambling behaviour.

Considering Gambling Involvement in the Understanding of Problem Gambling: A Large Cross-Sectional Study of an Australian Population

Instead of regarding a particular type of gambling activity (for example, electronic gambling machines, table games) as an isolated factor for problem gambling, recent research suggests that gambling involvement (for example, as measured by the number of different types of gambling activities played) should also be considered. Using a large sample of the Victorian adult population, this study found that the strength of association between problem gambling and the type of gambling reduced after adjusting for gambling involvement. This finding supports recent research that gambling involvement is an important factor in assessing the risk of problem gambling. The study also provides insights into the measurements of gambling involvement and provides alternative statistical modelling to analyse problem gambling.

Source: Yeung, K., & Wraith, D. (2015). Considering Gambling Involvement in the Understanding of Problem Gambling: A Large Cross-Sectional Study of an Australian Population. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

Impulsivity Predictors of Problem Gambling and Impaired Control

Previous studies of the relationship between impulsivity and problem gambling have produced inconsistent results due to sampling issues and the measures utilised. The current study assessed five facets of impulsivity as predictors of both gambling impaired control and problem gambling in a random sample of 309 regular EGM players. The measures included the UPPS-P for impulsivity, the PGSI for problem gambling and the impaired control scale from the SLUGS. This sample comprised 173 women (56 %) with a mean age of 59.15 years and 146 men with a mean age of 57.18 years. Results revealed that lack of perseverance was not a predictor of either gambling measure and that negative urgency was the strongest predictor of both impaired control and problem gambling…

Source: Haw, J. (2015). Impulsivity Predictors of Problem Gambling and Impaired Control. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1–12.

Gender Differences in the Temporal Sequencing of Problem Gambling with Other Disorders

Gender differences in the temporal sequencing of problem gambling and other disorders was investigated in a sample of 267 gamblers, recruited from treatment centres. There were 144 men (54 %) with a mean age of 40.58 years and 123 women with a mean age of 48.72 years. All participants completed a survey assessing age of first onset for problem gambling and age of first onset for mood and substance abuse disorders. Results revealed that women tended to experience other disorders before the first onset of problem gambling, whereas men tended to experience other disorders after the first onset of problem gambling…

Source: Haw, J., & Holdsworth, L. (2015). Gender Differences in the Temporal Sequencing of Problem Gambling with Other Disorders. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1–13.