Erroneous gambling-related beliefs as illusions of primary and secondary control: A confirmatory factor analysis


Different classification systems for erroneous beliefs about gambling have been proposed, consistently alluding to ‘illusion of control’ and ‘gambler’s fallacy’ categories. None of these classification systems have, however, considered the how the illusion of control and the gambler’s fallacy might be interrelated. In this paper, we report the findings of a confirmatory factor analysis that examines the proposal that most erroneous gambling-related beliefs can be defined in terms of Rothbaum et al.’s (J Pers Soc Psychol, doi:10.​1037/​0022-3514.​42.​1.​5, 1982) distinction between ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ illusory control, with the former being driven to a large extent by the well-known gambler’s fallacy and the latter being driven by a complex of beliefs about supernatural forces such as God and luck. A survey consisting of 100 items derived from existing instruments was administered to 329 participants. The analysis confirmed the existence of two latent structures (beliefs in primary and secondary control), while also offering support to the idea that gambler’s fallacy-style reasoning may underlie both perceived primary control and beliefs about the cyclical nature of luck, a form of perceived secondary control. The results suggest the need for a greater focus on the role of underlying processes or belief structures as factors that foster susceptibility to specific beliefs in gambling situations. Addressing and recognising the importance of these underlying factors may also have implications for cognitive therapy treatments for problem gambling.

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