Cognitive distortions presented in pathological gamblers before treatment, and those of a group of non-players or players with no problems, are compared. The participants are 160 men, 80 pathological gamblers according to DSM-IV-TR criteria, whose main gambling activity was slot machines; and 80 men with no gambling problems. The objective is to establish whether there is a difference in gambling-related cognitive distortions between the two samples. The cognitive distortions were evaluated by: (a) systematic observation in laboratory (the ‘thinking aloud’ method while playing) and (b) self-statements (two Likert scales for the estimation of the probabilities of winning and the attribution of the results).
Significant differences between the pathological gamblers and the non problem gamblers, in the main related to gambling measures, are presented:
(a) percentage of irrational phrases (30,31% versus. 8.28%);
(b) percentage of irrationality in phrases on gambling strategies (97% versus 82%),
(c) estimation of winning possibilities (38,46% versus. 26,92%) and (d) the percentage of the results attributed to luck (44,30% versus. 19.74%).
The high score of cognitive distortions in the players seems to be a strong etiological factor in the conduct development of pathological gambling, consequently, at least a part of the treatment should be focused on modifying these distortions.