Gambling outcome expectancies refer to the anticipated outcomes that gamblers expect will occur from gambling (i.e., learned memory associations between gambling cues, behavior, and outcomes). Unlike previous approaches to gambling outcome expectancies that have predominantly focused on the valence of outcome expectancies (positive vs. negative), the present study investigated two specific types of positive gambling outcome expectancies: reward and relief gambling outcome expectancies.
Specifically, the primary purpose of the current research was to examine whether gambling prime exposure activates different types of positive gambling outcome expectancies in enhancement- versus coping-motivated gamblers. Fifty adult, community-recruited regular gamblers performed a reaction time (RT) task and completed a self-report expectancy scale, both designed to assess reward and relief gambling outcome expectancies. They also completed the Gambling Motives Questionnaire (Stewart and Zack in Addiction 103:1110–1117 2008) to assess their levels of coping and enhancement motives for gambling. As hypothesized, reward gambling outcome expectancies were more strongly activated by gambling prime exposure than relief outcome expectancies on the RT task for gamblers with high enhancement motives. On the self-report expectancy measure, high enhancement-motivated gamblers endorsed stronger reward gambling outcome expectancies than low enhancement-motivated gamblers, and high coping-motivated gamblers endorsed stronger relief gambling outcome expectancies than low coping-motivated gamblers.
Results suggest that automatic activation of reward gambling outcome expectancies is particularly strong for high enhancement-motivated gamblers. Possible reasons for the failure to observe an association between coping gambling motives and automatic relief gambling outcome expectancies are discussed.