Effects of impulsivity, reinforcement sensitivity, and cognitive style on pathological gambling symptoms among frequent slot machine players

Abstract

AB Pathological Gambling (PG) is the inability to resist recurrent urges to gamble excessively despite harmful consequences to the gambler or others. A cognitive-behavioral Pathways Model of PG (Blaszczynski & Nower, 2002) suggests individual differences in rash impulsivity and reward sensitivity, together with a cognitive style that promotes poor decision making, as risk factors. These individual differences were examined in a community sample of experienced slot machine players (N = 100), who were classified into Low, Moderate, and Problem gambling groups according to the Problem Gambling Severity Index (Ferris & Wynne, 2001). There were significant group differences on rash impulsivity as measured by the Eysenck Impulsivity scale, and on reward sensitivity as measured by the BIS/BAS Drive scale. For cognitive style, there were differences on Actively Open minded Thinking (AOT), but not the Rational Experiential Inventory. Hierarchical regression analyses found that impulsivity and AOT predicted severity of PG, but that AOT mediated the effect of BAS Drive. A thinking style that promotes erroneous cognition may correlate with PG, but individual differences in rash impulsivity and reward-seeking play a more critical role in the etiology of PG. The individual characteristics of Pathological Gamblers are similar to those of people with Substance Use Disorders.

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