‘I’ll just pay the rent next month’: an exploratory study examining facilitatory cognitions among EGM problem gamblers (subscription access article)

Jane Oakes, Rene Pols, Sharon Lawn, Malcolm Battersby, Dan Lubman. (2018) International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi: 10.1007/s11469-018-9948-y

Clinical studies of problem gamblers (PGs) highlight the role of erroneous cognitions during problematic gambling, yet little is known about the role of cognitions in the maintenance of gambling problems. Twenty-nine electronic gaming machine (EGM) PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews, with a focus on understanding the relapse process in EGM gambling. Three themes and nine subthemes related to facilitatory cognitions were described; (i) creating available money (paying only essential bills, pokies money is not real money), (ii) minimising gambling as a problem (pseudo-control, ignoring harms), and (iii) struggling with overwhelming emotions. This paper expands our understanding of gambling cognitions and argues cognitions activated during problem gambling are more complicated than considered to date. These findings inform current cognitive therapy approaches by identifying a more comprehensive suite of erroneous cognitions. Addressing these cognitions may assist gamblers to maintain critical thinking about their decision to gamble, thus reducing their risk of relapse. Article details and references

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Winning versus losing during gambling and its neural correlates

Humans often make decisions which maximize an internal utility function. For example, humans often maximize their expected reward when gambling and this is considered as a “rational” decision. However, humans tend to change their betting strategies depending on how they “feel”. If someone has experienced a losing streak, they may “feel” that they are more likely to win on the next hand even though the odds of the game have not changed. That is, their decisions are driven by their emotional state. In this paper, we investigate how the human brain responds to wins and losses during gambling. Using a combination of local field potential recordings in human subjects performing a financial decision-making task, spectral analyses, and non-parametric cluster statistics, we investigated whether neural responses in different cognitive and limbic brain areas differ between wins and losses after decisions are made…

Source: Sacré, P., Kerr, M. S. D., Subramanian, S., Kahn, K., Gonzalez-Martinez, J., Johnson, M. A., … Sarma, S. V. (2016). Winning versus losing during gambling and its neural correlates. arXiv:1602.03493 [q-Bio]. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1602.03493

Gambling, Drinking and Quality of Life: Evidence from Macao and Australia

The investigation of the interface between psychological constructs, compulsive consumption of alcohol and pathological gambling is an important avenue for development of future initiatives in social marketing or prevention programs. This cross-cultural study attempts to bridge the gap in literature by providing an evaluation of the predictive ability of psychological variables such as gambling urge, gambling-related erroneous cognitions and comorbid alcohol consumption on pathological gambling behaviour and its impact on overall quality of life indicators…

Source: Loo, J. M. Y., Shi, Y., & Pu, X. (2015). Gambling, Drinking and Quality of Life: Evidence from Macao and Australia. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1–17. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-015-9569-3