Impulsivity and problem gambling: can the anticipated emotional rewards explain the relationship? (subscription access article)

Flack, M. & Buckby, B. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

Gambling behaviors tend to increase in prevalence from late adolescence to young adulthood, and the underlying genetic and environmental influences during this period remain largely understudied. We examined the genetic and environmental influences on gambling behaviors contributing to stability and change from ages 18 to 25 in a longitudinal, behavioral genetic mixed-sex twin study design. Participants were enrolled in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. A range of gambling behaviors (maximum frequency, average frequency, money lost, and gambling problems) were assessed at ages 18 and 25. The results of our study support the following conclusions: (a) the genetic and environmental factors impacting a range of gambling behaviors are largely similar in men and women, (b) genetic factors increase in influence from 18 to 25 (21% at age 18 to 57% at age 25), (c) shared environmental factors are influential at age 18, but tend to decrease from ages 18 to 25 (55% at age 18 to 10% at age 25), and (d) nonshared environmental influences are similarly significant and are small to moderate in magnitude at both ages. The findings add to a small yet important research area regarding determinants of youth gambling behaviors and have the potential to inform prevention and intervention efforts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved). Article details and references


Food Addiction in Gambling Disorder: Frequency and Clinical Outcomes

By Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Roser Granero, Ines Wolz, Marta Baño, Gemma Mestre-Bach, Trevor Steward, Zaida Agüera, Anke Hinney, Carlos Diéguez, Felipe F. Casanueva, Ashley N. Gearhardt, Anders Hakansson, José M. Menchón, and Fernando Fernández-Aranda.

Background: The food addiction (FA) model is receiving increasing interest from the scientific community. Available empirical evidence suggests that this condition may play an important role in the development and course of physical and mental health conditions such as obesity, eating disorders, and other addictive behaviors. However, no epidemiological data exist on the comorbidity of FA and gambling disorder (GD), or on the phenotype for the co-occurrence of GD+FA.

Objectives: To determine the frequency of the comorbid condition GD+FA, to assess whether this comorbidity features a unique clinical profile compared to GD without FA, and to generate predictive models for the presence of FA in a GD sample.

Method: Data correspond to N = 458 treatment-seeking patients who met criteria for GD in a hospital unit specialized in behavioral addictions.

Results: Point prevalence for FA diagnosis was 9.2%. A higher ratio of FA was found in women (30.5%) compared to men (6.0%). Lower FA prevalence was associated with older age. Patients with high FA scores were characterized by worse psychological state, and the risk of a FA diagnosis was increased in patients with high scores in the personality traits harm avoidance and self-transcendence, and low scores in cooperativeness (R2 = 0.18).

Conclusion: The co-occurrence of FA in treatment-seeking GD patients is related to poorer emotional and psychological states. GD treatment interventions and related behavioral addictions should consider potential associations with problematic eating behavior and aim to include techniques that aid patients in better managing this behavior.

Why are Some Games More Addictive than Others: The Effects of Timing and Payoff on Perseverance in a Slot Machine Game – Open Access

Manipulating different behavioral characteristics of gambling games can potentially affect the extent to which individuals persevere at gambling, and their transition to problematic behaviors. This has potential impact for mobile gambling technologies and responsible gambling interventions. Two laboratory models pertinent to this are the partial reinforcement extinction effect (PREE) and the trial spacing effect. Both of these might speed up or delay the acquisition and extinction of conditioned behavior. We report an experiment that manipulated the rate of reinforcement and inter trial interval (ITI) on a simulated slot machine where participants were given the choice between gambling and skipping on each trial, before perseverative gambling was measured in extinction, followed by measurements of the illusion of control, depression and impulsivity. We hypothesized that longer ITI’s in conjunction with the low rates of reinforcement observed in gambling would lead to greater perseverance. We further hypothesized, given that timing is known to be important in displaying illusory control and potentially in persevering in gambling, that prior exposure to longer intervals might affect illusions of control.

Source: James, R. J. E., O’Malley, C., & Tunney, R. J. (2016). Why are Some Games More Addictive than Others: The Effects of Timing and Payoff on Perseverance in a Slot Machine Game. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.

Problem Gambling and Sub-dimensions of Impulsivity among Regular Online Poker Players | Open Access

Introduction: Impulsivity is a personality dimension known to be closely linked to addictive behaviour, including problem gambling. The aim of the present study is to assess impulsivity and its sub-dimensions (non-planning, attentional and motor impulsivity) among a sample of regular poker players, in order to determine whether these subtypes are linked to problem gambling and its severity…

Source: S, B., & C, B. (2015). Problem Gambling and Sub-dimensions of Impulsivity among Regular Online Poker Players. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 06(04).

Loss-Chasing, Alexithymia, and Impulsivity in a Gambling Task: Alexithymia as a Precursor to Loss-Chasing Behavior When Gambling | Open Access

Objective: To examine the relationship between loss-chasing, the propensity to continue gambling to recover from losses, alexithymia, a personality trait associated poor emotional processing and impulsivity, the tendency to act quickly without reflection or consideration of the consequences…

Source: Bibby, P. A. (2016). Loss-Chasing, Alexithymia, and Impulsivity in a Gambling Task: Alexithymia as a Precursor to Loss-Chasing Behavior When Gambling. Cognition, 3.

A Serious Videogame as an Additional Therapy Tool for Training Emotional Regulation and Impulsivity Control in Severe Gambling Disorder

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Background: Gambling disorder (GD) is characterized by a significant lack of self-control and is associated with impulsivity-related personality traits. It is also linked to deficits in emotional regulation and frequently co-occurs with anxiety and depression symptoms. There is also evidence that emotional dysregulation may play a mediatory role between GD and psychopathological symptomatology. Few studies have reported the outcomes of psychological interventions that specifically address these underlying processes.

Objectives: To assess the utility of the Playmancer platform, a serious video game, as an additional therapy tool in a CBT intervention for GD, and to estimate pre-post changes in measures of impulsivity, anger expression and psychopathological symptomatology.

Method: The sample comprised a single group of 16 male treatment-seeking individuals with severe GD diagnosis. Therapy intervention consisted of 16 group weekly CBT sessions and, concurrently, 10 additional weekly sessions of a serious video game. Pre-post treatment scores on South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), I7 Impulsiveness Questionnaire (I7), State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory 2 (STAXI-2), Symptom Checklist-Revised (SCL-90-R), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-S-T), and Novelty Seeking from the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised (TCI-R) were compared.

Source: Tárrega, S., Castro-Carreras, L., Fernández-Aranda, F., Granero, R., Giner-Bartolomé, C., Aymamí, N., … Jiménez-Murcia, S. (2015). A Serious Videogame as an Additional Therapy Tool for Training Emotional Regulation and Impulsivity Control in Severe Gambling Disorder. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.

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.