By Davey, B., & Cummins, R.
Abstract: This study aims to test the application of the incentive-sensitisation theory to slot-machine gambling behaviour. The theory posits that for problem gamblers (PGs), gambling strengthens the response of motivational pathways in the mid-brain to gambling cues, eliciting strong wanting, independent of liking. Non-problem gamblers (NPGs) experience weaker changes to motivational pathways so liking and wanting remain associated. Hence, it is predicted that wanting to gamble will be greater than liking for PGs but there will be no difference for NPGs; wanting will be greater for PGs than for NPGs; and, wanting but not liking will predict whether PGs continue gambling, whereas both will predict this for NPGs. During gambling on an online simulated slot-machine, 39 PGs and 87 NPGs rated “liking” and “wanting”. Participants played at least 3 blocks of 10–20 spins, and then had the option of playing up to 4 additional blocks; to continue playing they had to complete an effortful task, so that “number of blocks played” acted as an additional indirect measure of wanting. Results supported hypotheses except on the indirect measure of wanting (the number of blocks played).
Davey, B., & Cummins, R. (2017). Testing an Incentive-Sensitisation Approach to Understanding Problem Slot-Machine Gambling Using an Online Slot-Machine Simulation. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-017-9718-y
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. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00046
AIM – The legal gambling age in Finland was raised from 15 to 18 years in 2010, but slot machines were given a transition period that ended with the full law coming into effect on 1 July 2011. The widespread accessibility of slot machines and their popularity among youth led us to consider how age limit was enforced in the Finnish gambling monopoly system and to analyse how underage gambling on slot machines changed after the raising of the minimum age.
METHODS – Two nationwide cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 2011 and 2013 (12–18-year-olds; N=8101; average response rate 42%). The main measure was self-reported six-month prevalence of slot machine use overall and by venue (shops; kiosks; petrol stations; restaurants/cafés; ship travels to Sweden/Estonia; other). Changes from 2011 to 2013 were tested by using the χ2 tests and multivariate logistic regression analyses. As a reference group only, 18-year-olds were analysed, as they were of legal age to gamble.
Source: Raisamo, S., Warpenius, K., & Rimpelä, A. (2015). Changes in minors’ gambling on slot machines in Finland after the raising of the minimum legal gambling age from 15 to 18 years: A repeated cross-sectional study. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 32(6), 579–590.