Cognitive characteristics of strategic and non-strategic gamblers

Abstract

Participation in strategic and non-strategic games is mostly explained in the literature by gender: men gamble on strategic games, while women gamble on non-strategic games. However, little is known about the underlying cognitive factors that could also distinguish strategic and non-strategic gamblers. We suggest that cognitive style and need for cognition also explain participation in gambling subtypes. From a dual-process perspective, cognitive style is the tendency to reject or accept the fast, automatic answer that comes immediately in response to a problem. Individuals that preferentially reject the automatic response use an analytic style, which suggest processing information in a slow way, with deep treatment. The intuitive style supposes a reliance on fast, automatic answers. The need for cognition provides a motivation to engage in effortful activities. One hundred and forty-nine gamblers (53 strategic and 96 non-strategic) answered the Cognitive Reflection Test, Need For Cognition Scale, and socio-demographic questions. A logistic regression was conducted to evaluate the influence of gender, cognitive style and need for cognition on participation in strategic and non-strategic games. Our results show that a model with both gender and cognitive variables is more accurate than a model with gender alone. Analytic (vs. intuitive) style, high (vs. low) need for cognition and being male (vs. female) are characteristics of strategic gamblers (vs. non-strategic gamblers). This study highlights the importance of considering the cognitive characteristics of strategic and non-strategic gamblers in order to develop preventive campaigns and treatments that fit the best profiles for gamblers.

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