Cue-reactive imagery mediates the relationships of reward responsiveness with both cue-reactive urge to gamble and positive affect in poker-machine gamblers [subscription-access article].

Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated that gambling cues (e.g., flashing lights on poker-machines) can trigger an urge to gamble in poker-machine gamblers. However, the psychological mechanisms that promote the urge to gamble remain poorly understood. The present study explored whether reward responsiveness predicted urge to gamble and positive affect, and whether cue-reactive rationality, volitional control and imagery mediated these relationships. Ninety-three (45% male and 55% female) Australian regular poker-machine gamblers aged between 18 and 77 participated in an online cue-reactivity experiment. Participants initially completed the Problem Gambling Severity Index and Reward Responsiveness scale. Subsequently, at three time points (i.e., baseline, directly after a neutral cue and directly after a gambling cue) participants completed the rationality, volitional control and imagery subscales of the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory and two visual analogue scales that measured urge to gamble and positive affect. Analyses indicated that gambling cues triggered statistically significant increases in both urge to gamble and positive affect and these variables were statistically significantly positively correlated with reward responsiveness. Furthermore, only cue-reactive imagery mediated the relationships between reward responsiveness and the two outcome variables (i.e., cue-reactive urge to gamble and positive affect). These findings highlight the potential importance of targeting reward responsiveness and cue-reactive mental imagery in the context of exposure therapies for poker-machine problem gamblers. Article details and access conditions

Reference: Dale, G., Rock, A.J. & Clark, G.I. (2019). Cue-reactive imagery mediates the relationships of reward responsiveness with both cue-reactive urge to gamble and positive affect in poker-machine gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09864-x

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Trait Mindfulness, Problem-Gambling Severity, Altered State of Awareness and Urge to Gamble in Poker-Machine Gamblers

McKeith, C. F. A., Rock, A. J., & Clark, G. I.

In Australia, poker-machine gamblers represent a disproportionate number of problem gamblers. To cultivate a greater understanding of the psychological mechanisms involved in poker-machine gambling, a repeated measures cue-reactivity protocol was administered. A community sample of 38 poker-machine gamblers was assessed for problem-gambling severity and trait mindfulness. Participants were also assessed regarding altered state of awareness (ASA) and urge to gamble at baseline, following a neutral cue, and following a gambling cue. Results indicated that: (a) urge to gamble significantly increased from neutral cue to gambling cue, while controlling for baseline urge; (b) cue-reactive ASA did not significantly mediate the relationship between problem-gambling severity and cue-reactive urge (from neutral cue to gambling cue); (c) trait mindfulness was significantly negatively associated with both problem-gambling severity and cue-reactive urge (i.e., from neutral cue to gambling cue, while controlling for baseline urge); and (d) trait mindfulness did not significantly moderate the effect of problem-gambling severity on cue-reactive urge (from neutral cue to gambling cue). This is the first study to demonstrate a negative association between trait mindfulness and cue-reactive urge to gamble in a population of poker-machine gamblers. Thus, this association merits further evaluation both in relation to poker-machine gambling and other gambling modalities.