An expert map of gambling risk perception

Abstract

The purpose of the current study was to investigate the moderating or mediating role played by risk perception in decision-making, gambling behaviour, and disordered gambling aetiology. Eleven gambling expert clinicians and researchers completed a semi-structured interview derived from mental models and grounded theory methodologies. Expert interview data was used to construct a comprehensive expert mental model 'map' detailing risk-perception related factors contributing to harmful or safe gambling. Systematic overlapping processes of data gathering and analysis were used to iteratively extend, saturate, test for exception, and verify concepts and emergent themes. Findings indicated that experts considered idiosyncratic beliefs among gamblers result in overall underestimates of risk and loss, insufficient prioritization of needs, and planning and implementation of risk management strategies. Additional contextual factors influencing use of risk information (reinforcement and learning; mental states, environmental cues, ambivalence; and socio-cultural and biological variables) acted to shape risk perceptions and increase vulnerabilities to harm or disordered gambling. It was concluded that understanding the nature, extent and processes by which risk perception predisposes an individual to maintain gambling despite adverse consequences can guide the content of preventative educational responsible gambling campaigns.

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